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The vision, the riddle, and the vicious circle: Pierre Klossowski reading Nietzsche's sick body through Sade's perversion
Joanne Faulkner a a La Trobe University,
Online Publication Date: 01 March 2007 To cite this Article: Faulkner, Joanne (2007) 'The vision, the riddle, and the vicious circle: Pierre Klossowski reading Nietzsche's sick body through Sade's perversion ', Textual Practice, 21:1, 43 - 69 To link to this article: DOI: 10.1080/09502360601156922 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09502360601156922
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Textual Practice 21(1), 2007, 43– 69
Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007
The vision, the riddle, and the vicious circle: Pierre Klossowski reading Nietzsche’s sick body through Sade’s perversion1
In Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle,2 Pierre Klossowski’s principal concern is Nietzsche’s ‘experience’ in writing. This experience is elaborated with reference to a tension in Nietzsche’s work between the extant, didactic level, and the tussle of forces through which text is formed. Klossowski thus elucidates a ‘corporeal’ undercurrent of Nietzsche’s philosophy that both resists and produces the text, by means of an analysis of the ‘enigmatic’ thought of eternal recurrence. Klossowski holds that the eternal recurrence – referenced sparsely and gnomically by Nietzsche in his published writings – was in fact his most important discovery, expressing the ‘phantasm’ about which all his other thought turns. Klossowski thus also indicates the mechanism by which Nietzsche was able to recruit readers to his critical project: because the thought of eternal recurrence produces the textual conditions under which the reader might share Nietzsche’s ‘experience’. In this respect, text is conceived as the medium for a contagion between its author and reader: that is, Nietzsche’s bodily experience is transmitted to the reader through his writings. This paper argues that Klossowski’s focus upon the role of the ‘simulacrum’ of eternal return – as what simulates the ipseity of the philosopher’s body – brings out the pivotal role played by the notion of a ‘bodily remainder’ in producing a feeling of intimacy between Nietzsche’s text and its reader: or an identiﬁcation ﬁgured in terms of corporeal experience. That Nietzsche attracts a variety of readers, with such diverse investments in his text, is a fact often noted by commentators. Moreover, as open to interpretation as Nietzsche’s writing may be, many Nietzscheans also hold that his texts select ‘good’ readers from ‘bad’, and thus appeal to its own imagery of the ‘hyperborean’, or higher philosopher, dwelling beyond the everyday concerns of common people.3 Through his focus upon the ‘vicious circle’ of return, Klossowski theorizes the reader’s relation to Nietzsche’s philosophy in terms of a bodily contagion – represented by
Textual Practice ISSN 0950-236X print/ISSN 1470-1308 online # 2007 Taylor & Francis http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals DOI: 10.1080/09502360601156922
we are better able to appreciate the revolutionary tenor of Klossowski’s interpretation of Nietzsche. I will elucidate the meaning of this conspiracy [complot] by drawing upon its conceptual relationship to the Marquis de Sade’s secret society of perverts. or community. and Agamben: that is. and can even be interpreted with reference to the 44 . This corporeal excess of Nietzsche’s text amounts to a species of esotericism. his account of Nietzsche’s ‘esotericism’ diverges signiﬁcantly from the more traditional appeal to those-in-theknow. more precarious hue in Klossowski’s terms.Textual Practice Nietzsche’s ‘valetudinary states’ – that selects and separates the reader from the remainder of society. the body.5 A neglected progenitor of these philosophers in relation to other ﬁgures such as Bataille or Blanchot. or falsiﬁes. He thus preﬁgures concerns taken up later by Deleuze. and as a co-conspirator against culture. Rather than the lofty hyperborean. Foucault. as elaborated by Klossowski in his essay ‘The PhilosopherVillain’. Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle responds to and enlarges a problematic set up by Nietzsche throughout his oeuvre: the relation of the body to language. insofar as Klossowski contends that the text selects. Klossowski emphasizes a revolutionary potentiality within Nietzsche’s philosophy. admitting to the community thus generated by the text only those readers capable of sharing with Nietzsche the ‘experience’ that grounds his writing. between the body and language: a relation that generates the requisite tension for ‘transgression’ to take the form of a community. and ‘higher men’. I will examine the relation in terms of which Klossowski frames his study of Nietzsche. Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 On the Continuity and Disjunction Between the Body and Language To a signiﬁcant degree. For Nietzsche this is a troubled relation: as language both emerges from and obstructs. which addresses issues of social cohesion and the potential for critique as well as simple questions of how to read Nietzsche’s philosophy. wont to follow the vagaries of desire. the bodily potentiality that both undermines and gives rise to discourse. By elucidating the difference between the gregarious level of discourse and a mute ‘core’ that resonates beneath its extant meaning. The meaning of having been ‘selected’ by Nietzsche thus takes on a different. Language is a product of the body. However. Klossowski also positions the body as a destabilizing force in relation to a repressive ‘socius’. His engagements with Nietzsche and Sade – through the ‘simulacra’ of eternal return and sodomy – thus address the question of how a community that cultivates singularity or uniqueness might be possible. however.4 By reading his work on Nietzsche and Sade together. Klossowski characterizes Nietzsche’s ‘good’ reader as perverse. Before turning to the socially transgressive promise of eternal recurrence.
.11 For Klossowski. Consciousness itself constitutes the code of signs that inverts. no matter how faithful the translation. it was necessary for art to disappear [.Joanne Faulkner The vision. or affect. and so begets an oppressive sameness. the exchange of signs – both between and within particular languages – conceals and disavows the speciﬁcity of each body. . In this respect. according to Nietzsche. language opposes and disempowers the body. and a return to the body must involve a departure from sense. ‘[t]o restore these ‘corporealizing’ forces (impulses) to thought amounts to an expropriation of the agent.10 For a language indicates. the material conditions of its production: its history of use and cultural milieu. Especially as concerns the literary or poetic work. However.]. the riddle. language fabricates (lies about) the body. Reading back from language to the body therefore requires the philological arts: an ability to interpret beyond the face value of every sign. separating the subject from the immediacy of bodily impulses and impressions.12 The body wants to make itself understood through the intermediary of a language of signs that is fallaciously deciphered by consciousness. and the vicious circle order of drives that comprise the speaker’s body because. ‘the problem of translation is the question of the relation of language to its outside’. by comparing two systems.9 The nature of this mute ‘core’ of meaning can be clariﬁed. a loss of depth. the philosopher’s body provides the ‘real germ of life from which the whole plant [the philosophy] has grown’. diagnosing the ‘disease’ from which Western philosophy and religion – understood as misunderstandings of the body7 – stem.8 If language is a mode of corporeal encryption. The body fabricates (produces) language. inﬂected by every linguistic exchange between individual speaking subjects. As Klossowski writes. precisely in this respect. and in turn.13 Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 45 . of the self’. and for the affects to be swallowed up entirely in the fabrication of exchangeable products. must always be incurred. then the process of deciphering seeks precisely a kernel of ‘meaning’ unintelligible in terms of the convention of signs of which it is composed.6 Thus Nietzsche is able to claim to be a physician to culture. or terms. in translation. He invokes Nietzsche’s disparagement of consciousness to articulate this loss: [T]he historical and human world has not managed to silence the affects: in order for this newly autonomous consciousness to triumph completely over the initial Desire (represented by the idleness of the Master). but cannot encapsulate. to an extent. falsiﬁes and ﬁlters what is expressed through the body. that do not quite coincide: for instance. As Leslie Hill writes. and sometimes even to infer from what is avowed its opposite. the body is understood as the ‘ground’ that meaning must leave behind or obscure.
Insofar as thought is conﬁned to an ordinary language. By examining the alternations in his own valetudinary states. how a discourse faithful to the body might be generated. he sought to follow this Ariadne’s thread through the labyrinth of the impulses. but continues to draw upon its secret reserve: from the unarticulated ground upon which the statement derives its meaning. it is a part of the body that is alienated from itself: the ‘self’. such that the ‘incommensurable’ becomes accessible at least to those rendered open to it by Nietzsche’s text. that is generic and exchangeable. the body’s perception of its own interiority. then. Nietzsche’s point of access to a ‘corporealizing thought’15 – or thought that returns to the body – was by way of what Klossowski calls his ‘valetudinary states’: that is. Whereas the body is not self-present. Conscious thought has separated itself from the body. As Klossowski puts this. Klossowski looks to Nietzsche’s writings in search of a praxis capable of bringing to language a corporeal ‘logic’. Its ‘surplus value’ arises from an accumulation of energy that presses on ‘between’ words: the silence that subtends (and escapes) the statement. the guiding thread of the body. In this respect. and so equivalent.Textual Practice As with Nietzsche. does not coincide with itself. the self is a facade of ‘sameness’ manufac¸ tured by the body for instrumental purposes. which deals in incommensurable quantities: or rather. or ‘person’. Klossowski – like Nietzsche – understands the ‘self’ to be coextensive with language and consciousness. Klossowski understands consciousness as a thin tissue that mediates a body’s relation to its outside. in several places. All ‘phenomena’. volatile body. ‘units’ of imaginary value – through which consciousness understands itself. [Nietzsche] followed what he called. and then comes to threaten this ‘self’ with disintegration. Moreover. differences in quality. it is able to create nothing new. the very sickness that imperiled his self. situated contrary to the ‘impulsive’. and especially to other subjects. for Klossowski words constitute a closed system that refers only to ‘itself’ rather than to a material ‘outside’. if they are to be registered by consciousness. the body produces the self as an illusion of its own cohesion.14 The problematic that Klossowski thereby sets up in relation to Nietzsche’s work is the question of how creativity (encoded as corporeal) is possible within language. Consciousness’ economy does not accord to that of the body. Thus. must be converted to its currency (the code of everyday signs) and this also includes ‘interoception’: that is.16 Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 46 . and correlatively. which cannot be exchanged or deﬁnitively reconciled. The ‘code of everyday signs’ [le code des signes quotidiens] to which Klossowski refers in the passage quoted above indicates an economy of words – exchangeable. but is instead a multiplicity of disparate forces.
and the vicious circle Of essence to Nietzsche’s project of recovering the body to language. according to Klossowski. which both interrupted and fuelled his work. Under such conditions. Broken down into its component parts. in a manner that will perhaps never again be known. By means of his sickness. By studying the reactions of his nervous system. Nietzsche was able to observe the body at war with itself. His sickness became a conspiracy against his ‘self’ – the stable identity ‘Nietzsche’ – in order to enable a greater lucidity with regard to the physiological conditioning underlying all human action.17 Nietzsche’s ‘experiments’ upon his body – the observations that he made during the times of his worst incapacity – served an insubordination of the body to the brain. A suspicion. as a ‘semiotic of impulses’. Klossowski aligns lucidity with Nietzsche’s delirium. Nietzsche’s sick and unruly body could not furnish him the minimum conditions for social agency. and that there is a fundamental rupture between this body and self.Joanne Faulkner The vision. Nietzsche had to reinterpret his sickness – or ‘valetudinary states’ – as an address to consciousness: hence Klossowski’s appellation for these violent bodily ﬂuctuations.18 Accordingly. including language and culture. Nietzsche ‘sided with his body’: If the body is presently in pain. the riddle. Nietzsche’s attentions to his bodily symptoms engender a ‘lucidity’ with which the opacity of the impulses can be ameliorated. dyspepsia. This person – fashioned by a particular epoch. and blindness. wherein Nietzsche identiﬁed with the internal diversity of his physiological states in preference to the cultural and familial milieu represented by his ‘person’. according to Klossowski. writing. And in order to gain access to this material. in a familial milieu he increasingly abhorred – is not what he wanted to conserve. he would come to conceive of himself in a different manner than he had previously known – and indeed. He would destroy the person out of a love for the nervous system he knew he had been gifted with. and in which he took a certain pride. Against gregariousness. Nietzsche’s sick body. unavailable to the ‘healthy’ (meaning gregarious) man. it is because a language is trying to make itself heard at the price of reason. In his delirium. Nietzsche experienced as assaults of the body upon the brain. and thinking. a hatred. presented him with a perspective on language. The cycles of migraine. the illusion of bodily coherence could not hold. and against his own self.19 For this reason. vomiting of phlegm. The central concern of this concept of lucidity is an awareness of the reality of the body as heterogeneous. according Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 47 . that the self is a ﬁction. if the brain is sending nothing but distress signals. is an experimentation that takes as its ‘empirical data’ the modulations within his own body. a rage against his own conscious and reasonable person was born.
in a third section. Klossowski situates the ‘self’ at the extremity of chaos:21 as a surface ‘delegated’ by chaos. Of central importance to Klossowski’s thesis is eternal return. between the reader and the text. however.22 And as ‘the agent thinks only as a product of this code’ of everyday signs. perhaps the most excessive (and thus ‘corporeal’) ﬁgure left to us by Nietzsche. or ‘community’. and even then it appears more as a poetic device than a 48 . consciousness itself. Having posed the question of how Nietzsche could ‘corporealize’ thought – expressing his bodily singularity by transgressing the generic code of signs – Klossowski proposes the thought of eternal recurrence as the mechanism of this expropriation. I will map the relation. merges with the ﬂux and reﬂux of the impulses’. in its very transparency. in order to restore thought to the body. which interprets itself as origin. I will then. that approximates ‘wordless communication’. in the light of a comparison between Nietzsche’s conspiracy against culture and Sade’s secret society of perverts. and it is also a means by which he is able to transmit to the reader an ‘intensity’. be in a position to elucidate Klossowski’s vision of a community founded upon the production. Nietzsche’s consciousness scratched at the tain of the ‘mirror’ that had separated his self from his body. rather than the repression. rather than his self. and thereby he was opened to the danger of madness. Nietzsche’s philosophical strategy of ‘siding’ with his body. For Klossowski eternal return is the ﬁgure through which Nietzsche is able to dissociate himself from the ﬁction of his ‘person’. involved ‘expropriating’ the self. The protective barrier between the self and the chaotic depth that subtends subjectivity. For ‘once it ‘scratches’ the tain.23 it is understood that whatever is left for thought in the wake of the expropriation of agency would involve a different economy to everyday language – or a ‘semiotic of impulses’. sketched by Klossowski in Vicious Circle. and there is a departure from the code of everyday signs that limits human experience. is permeable. or becoming. Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 Exquisite Delirium: the Thought of Eternal Return Eternal recurrence is elucidated only twice within Nietzsche’s published writings. According to Klossowski. such that ‘chaos’ is then rendered at its service. especially when subjected to stress. or ‘soul tonality’.20 This is precisely the point at which the attractions of Nietzsche’s madness emerge for Klossowski: where his delirium coincides with lucidity.Textual Practice to Klossowski. In the section that follows. of bodies and desires. between this project of expropriating the self and the possibility of corporeal communication. In keeping with Nietzsche’s own account of subjectivity.
and simulacrum. rather. it would serve well at this point to introduce the speciﬁc vocabulary with which Klossowski elaborates the various qualitative differences of experience. understood as an opening to a transformative and divine delirium. By coupling lucidity and delirium. The reader is asked to imagine that he is addressed by a demon (or spirit of gravity). as representing the apotheosis of Nietzsche’s philosophy and life: that highest point wherein he achieved lucidity. who challenges him to relive every moment. Moreover. innumerable times more. ‘lucidity’ is misconceived as opposed to delirium: expressing. and through which he sketches the possibility of conscious thought’s return to the body: impulse. The impulse refers to the bodily chaos that Nietzsche 49 . the riddle. as a blot on the landscape of a philosophy that is otherwise characterized by its ‘this worldliness’. as an afﬁrmation of immanence: a revaluation of life in response to the realization that our predominant Wissenschaft no longer supports an afterlife.26 The test resides in one’s affective response to this possibility: Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine’. such that it either holds the reader’s attention. Within a mode of thinking for which the self functions chieﬂy to reproduce social norms. and the vicious circle Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 philosophical argument. and a challenge to take responsibility for the meaning of the earth.28 Klossowski interprets this revolutionary thought at an even more personal level. or else is passed over relatively unacknowledged. or perspective. the thought of eternal return evokes an uncanny resonance that can potentially unsettle the reader – Nietzsche’s references to it are all the more powerful for their brevity.27 This passage is generally considered in existential terms. Eternal recurrence – with its reference to demons and cosmology – stands out in its impenetrability. however. great and small. phantasm. Klossowski renders eternal recurrence as signifying the destruction of the self.Joanne Faulkner The vision. In order to comprehend what this coalescence between lucidity and delirium entails. First.24 In which case. Klossowski designates as ‘impulsive’ the most unintelligible aspect of human being: the incommunicable abyss from which all meaning arises. eternal return is understood merely as a thought experiment. why has this ‘thought’ exerted such a powerful inﬂuence upon twentieth century interpretations of Nietzsche’s philosophy?25 Perhaps this is because of the seeming incongruity of the thought of eternal return with the remainder of Nietzsche’s work. Initially. more effective at shocking the reader out of her comfort zone. an apex of individuated selfhood – and thus safeguarding against civil disobedience.
culture. ‘the code of everyday signs’) one is considered moral. yet the species opposes impulsional singularity by virtue of its need for exchange. whether prior to or after interpretation. or ‘drive’. unrepresentable within the terms that orient identiﬁcation. It is the impulses – these basic units of life – that interpret. differentiating itself from all other drives.31 For Klossowski the impulses constitute the ‘soul tonality’ that accumulates beneath.30 In this respect. It can be understood as a ‘monad’ of the internally incoherent play of forces that Nietzsche understood as underpinning the self. The impulse – corporeality – is forgotten by culture. one is set apart from species being: Once the body is recognized as the product of the impulses (subjected. The impulses can be put to use by a new body. organized. ‘will’. traceable back to the most dominant impulse: perspectival difference is essentially corporeal difference. each hierarchical organization of impulses yielding its own perspective.Textual Practice Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 designates as ‘Trieb’: ‘instinct’. and are presupposed in the search for new conditions. such as that exhibited by Nietzsche immediately prior to the onset in 1889 of what would become total brain inertia. Such singularity is a possible mode for all. which requires a degree of sacriﬁce and social abandonment. and in this respect approximating pure difference. and proﬂigate shadow. subordinate. or in opposition to. impulses both subtend and oppose gregariousness. insubordinate. and productive. as all bodies are products of the interplay of impulses – and yet not all will apply to its call. Insofar as one’s hierarchy of impulses is able to accord to the species conﬁguration in general (that is. however. According to his doctrine of will to power. The impulse remains inaccessible to consciousness. ‘force’. This is primarily because an impulse is not exchangeable. and relations of difference between these ‘monads’ organize what is only contingently a coherent entity. As Nietzsche elucidated in his essay on truth and metaphor. or ‘unforgetting’) consisting in a delirious mode of being. the survival of the collective necessitates the metaphysical reduction of one ‘thing’ to another. at least in principle. Klossowski reafﬁrms 50 . hierarchized). What Klossowski and Nietzsche both call ‘species life’ is fundamentally impulsive. and thus the occultation of idiosyncrasy and difference. and will only resurface through an ‘anamnesis’ (remembrance. its cohesion with the self becomes fortuitous.29 This ‘excess’ that would open out to new trajectories of being represents society’s monstrous counter-part: its immoral. Differences in perspective between agents are then. To the extent that one senses the call of an impulse that surpasses the economy of signs. impulses are in fact all that there is for Nietzsche.
e. to appropriate itself as an object of interpretation. the ﬁgure of recurrence. and was perhaps transmitted more eloquently by means of the ‘silences’ in which it was couched than the abridged explications offered by Nietzsche. Klossowski interpreted the thought of eternal recurrence as the apotheosis that ﬁnally transported Nietzsche to the perilous heights of disintegration. and is experienced as a constraint that drives one to return continually to certain behaviors. the essential kernel of the thought that Nietzsche attempted to communicate was precisely this affective intensity that had so perplexed his friends. however. the riddle. Klossowski ambiguously opposes the phantasm to the simulacrum. importantly it is not communicable in itself. a phantasm represents the impulse’s attempt to ‘objectivate’ itself: that is. According to Klossowski. and manifests as an ‘obsessional image’ to which the agent must continually return in the attempt to expunge. through forces that are thereby exorcized and dominated by the impulse’. the simulacrum is the externalization (or expression) Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 51 .34 If the phantasm is a ‘production’ of the impulses. Like the impulse. by which humanity can produce itself. but its skilful reproduction. the ‘individual’. Klossowski thus characterizes the eternal return as a vehicle for the expression of the high tonality [hohe Stimmung] of Nietzsche’s soul. the simulacrum is needed: in this case. Klossowski writes. which. the impulse. For that. and from the species aspect of oneself (i. This ﬁgure of apotheosis must be read also in relation to the apparent incommunicability of the idea of return: for. which both motivates and provides the limit for Nietzsche’s philosophy. his attempts to relate recurrence to them was marked by an urgency that would have been absent were he engaging merely in a didactic repetition of the ancient doctrine of return. as many of Nietzsche’s friends attested. or ¨ ¨ his highest feeling [hochste Gefuhl]. or an engine for ‘obsessional’ productions. More speciﬁcally. As was noted earlier. such as philosophy or art. Klossowski’s concept of the phantasm is in itself still relatively incoherent.33 The phantasm is a reaction against the ‘person’ to whom it is understood to belong: an attempt to enact a state of difference from the species (or the ‘herd’ in Nietzsche’s parlance). On the one hand. thus becoming self-reﬂexive. installed by virtue of the code of everyday signs).32 This brings us to the ‘phantasm’. The phantasm never ﬁnds its adequate expression. or satisfy. is ‘produced at the limit-point where this impulse is turned into a thought (of this impulse) as a repulsion against the adulterous coherence’ of agency.Joanne Faulkner The vision. The concept of the phantasm can be further elucidated with reference to the ‘simulacrum’ of eternal return. eternal return ‘is not the product of a phantasm. Understood as a simulacrum.. and the vicious circle this sentiment in Nietzsche when he writes ‘[n]othing exists apart from impulses that are essentially generative of phantasms’. Eternal recurrence is the ‘simulacrum’ that ﬁgures the phantasm.
35 We might understand poetry as exhibiting the form of the simulacrum. because it opens the reader to an ´ experience that cannot be rendered by the precis. and ‘the inability to invent simulacra is [. piece of music. husks of some prior life form rather than living architectures of the body. and is thus in this sense – albeit at another remove – the body’s own creation. On the other hand. however. Simulacra can lose their vibrant intensity. If one cannot attain the experience directly from the text. as a simulacrum. or windows to the past. it is because it is willed as such by both the generality and the singular case. In this sense. and is characterized by a use of language that is not strictly translatable. and thus undermining the laws of the sign economy: If the phantasm is what makes each of us a singular case – in order to defend it against the institutional signiﬁcation given to it by the gregarious group – the singular case cannot avoid resorting to the simulacrum as something that is equivalent to its phantasm – as much as for a fraudulent exchange between the singular case and the gregarious generality. Eternal recurrence. The inability to experience what the poem. Klossowski holds that such mythmaking is crucial to corporealized thinking. the phantasm and simulacrum abide together in a close relation: Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 52 . it does not conform to a standard of truth that would be determined externally and ‘universally’. liable to empty itself of meaning as soon as a cultural shift takes place. Nietzsche’s attempts in his notes to elucidate (or test) recurrence scientiﬁcally are unconvincing for the same reason that others’ attempts to do so are merely ridiculous: the intensity that corresponds to return can only be hailed by the simulacrum. 36 As was the case for the impulse and the phantasm.] a symptom of degeneration’. the simulacrum also tends towards stereotypy to the extent that it is circumscribed by the code of everyday signs. . and in this manner protects it from the leveling effects of the code of everyday signs. The simulacrum is productive of truth. as it is written – or from a fragment of words. becoming mere relics. In this regard the simulacrum enacts a ‘fraudulent exchange’. which does not yield to reality testing. for Klossowski the simulacrum substitutes itself as a sign for the phantasm. substituting itself for the phantasm. . the simulacrum is an ossiﬁcation of the impulses. The simulacrum most frequently takes the form of myth or parody. or sounds that expresses a similar density or intensity – then this experience is simply unavailable. images. appeals to impulses that want to be freed of their bondage to the self. or artwork shows suggests a weakness of the impulses to which it appeals. or exchangeable.Textual Practice of the phantasm. But if this exchange is fraudulent. Importantly.
For. We interpret it under the constraint of our environment. high tonality – resonates and is transmitted.Joanne Faulkner The vision. eternal recurrence can be understood as an esoteric and selective form. or ‘self’. The fullness of Nietzsche’s experience – his body – is only a lure for the reader. it is also the agent of contagion.39 representing instead an afﬁrmation of discontinuity that characterizes the ‘sovereign individual’. Return purports to open Nietzsche’s bodily impulsions to the reader. the riddle. Yet it must be remembered that. to open herself to the instability of becoming. restoring thought to the 53 . as subject to that experience. engendering within her the same quality. for which return is the touchstone. and this is the basis upon which the thought selects: it measures the extent to which the reader is able to withstand. by means of an esoteric movement of revealing concealment. The simulacrum simulates the phantasm. and the vicious circle Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 From the mood (impulse and repulsion) to the idea. the ﬁgure of recurrence can only simulate and distort Nietzsche’s ‘high tonality’. but as a thought that preﬁgures the bearer’s disintegration. and even afﬁrm. The dangerous truth of return that Nietzsche attempts to share with his friends and readers should also open them to such dissolution. the conversion of the mute phantasm into speech is brought about. return’s principle effect being a perilous destabilization of the self. and stimulating within him the quality. But under its own constraint we simulate what it ‘means’ for our declaration: this is the simulacrum. the experience to which the thought of return refers is precisely that lucidity which lays bare the myth of a unity. appealing to the body of the reader upon whom it acts. or tonality. which is so well installed in us by its own signs that. and this is what renders it a corporealized thought.38 In this vein. thus rendering its communication possible but only by distorting its essential nature: that is. ensuring that a space is kept open for bodily creativity. recurrence is not only an agent of the communication of the ‘incommunicable’. from the idea to its declarative formulation. we never have done with declaring to ourselves what the impulse can indeed will: this is the phantasm.37 The simulacrum attempts to render the phantasm accessible to a select audience by simulating its movement.40 In this way. Such a renunciation of identity opposes the codiﬁcation imposed upon the body by gregarious being. By means of the excessive thought of return. threatening madness along with enlightenment. and thus destabilizing distinctions between ‘Nietzsche’ and his reader. For the phantasm never tells us why it is willed by our impulses. by means of these signs. a relinquishment of unity. The simulacrum ‘chaperones’ the phantasm on its rendezvous with the code of signs. something of the body – the ineffable. or tonality. as a simulacrum.
the simulacrum of return reproduces itself through the reader’s attempt to enact an authentic (dissolute) experience of return. Nietzsche’s conspiracy against culture and against language is a bodily contagion transmitted to the reader. if we are to take seriously Klossowski’s characterization of eternal recurrence as a simulacrum. not only because he studied these two great thinkers concurrently. in the form of parody. or the curious ‘vicious circle’ enacting. Nietzsche bids them to access for themselves the possibility of self-annihilation. thus staging a ‘call and response’ exchange Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 54 . paradoxically. Most signiﬁcantly for understanding how Nietzsche’s text enlists the reader at the level of her corporeality: as a simulacrum. However. in relation to his interpretation of the Marquis de Sade.Textual Practice body. The ﬁgure of return thus reproduces itself in the reader as a kind death drive. and then only simulates those qualities that are read as ‘impulsive’. The interpretation produces the impulse. And yet. recurrence also cloisters or encrypts the impulse. In this light. But such a revolution in culture and value would occur at the micro-level of his reader’s body. Nietzsche may have envisioned the ﬁgure of recurrence as the centerpiece of a new counter-culture. But in so doing something of the body is indeed communicated. By posing to his readers the question of recurrence. then it must also be understood to have a productive relation to the reality that it purports merely to represent: the simulacrum brings the impulse into a relation with a community of others. but also because he posed questions to Sade through his writing on Nietzsche. and vice versa. Klossowski’s account of Nietzsche cannot properly be separated from his work on Sade. the alienation through which the self is precariously constituted. existing prior to his reading of return. In the ﬁnal section of this paper I will explore Klossowski’s notion of the complot – or conspiracy – that guided his reading of Nietzsche. The simulation that codiﬁes Nietzsche’s highest feeling gives rise to a mimicry on behalf of his reader: a mimicry that reproduces in her the experience of return. It keeps in reserve its truly corporeal aspect. but always in the guise of something else. and as the engine for a new set of values. by means of writing. or transmitted – although this can perhaps be understood as a gestural communication41 rather than an exchange of vapors or ﬂuids. as a simulacrum. protecting it from the abrasive action of common thought. singles him out amongst Nietzsche’s readers as the one for whom the signal is codiﬁed. and the community to which it would give rise would be constituted solely of those who shared with him the experience of return. The reader may assume that a renegade impulse. recurrence can only simulate Nietzsche’s high tonality by transforming it into a mythic form – thus also potentially ushering into being a culture equal to the impulsional power that it designates. but not ‘in itself’: rather.
learned associate. to which he had added ‘The Philosopher-Villain’ as a belated ﬁrst chapter. The question Klossowski thus poses. as the heir to an overripe accumulation of knowledge (or cultural memory). culture and what it refuses. conceived as a bodily contagion of sickness and perversity. Nietzsche. at least within the same movement of his own thought on the relation between language and the body. by means of a corporeal semantics fashioned from the limits of their own experience. In this next section. He begins selfreﬂexively. and the vicious circle Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 between these texts. then. The Conspiracy of Philosopher-Villains: Nietzsche-Klossowski-Sade Nietzsche and Sade may be unlikely bedfellows. by putting his own authority into question. represented by Nietzsche as the simulacrum of eternal return. Nietzsche and Sade each embody for Klossowski culture’s tipping point: or. Moreover. we might also ask after Klossowski’s relation to this secret society of criminals and invalids: as disciple. and the morally corrupt and sexually excessive Sade. each assume the burden of representing to culture its inconsistencies and internal points of rupture. and within Sade’s writings. concerns how their works might found a counter-culture. or did Victor already pass it on to him? The title alone is enough to make one vomit: ‘Sade My Neighbor’!42 55 . Yet Klossowski brings them together productively – if not within the same text.Joanne Faulkner The vision. He provides us with a ﬁrst clue to his relationship to these ﬁgures in the preface to a later edition of Sade My Neighbor. Klossowski theorises these simulacra as units of exchange between ‘sovereign individuals’. or perhaps even founder of this cult. an extremity at which the decadence of the cultural elite becomes self-reﬂexive and critical. through his readings of Nietzsche and Sade. quoting a character from another of his works. which form the basis for a ‘secret society’ deeply embedded within existing society. according to Klossowski. I will address the liaison dangereuse between Nietzsche and Sade – as mediated by Klossowski – with a view to drawing out the notion of a community of singular types generated by their texts. and Nietzsche’s famously impoverished sex life. And they do so. as sodomy. Following this line of questioning. Roberte Ce Soir: ROBERTE: Who gave Antoine that book he was reading last night? Was it you. his readings of their works ask after the machinery of their particular variety of esotericism. the riddle. rather than as the skeleton key to a pristine and delicate locked box. given Sade’s lasciviousness. the political and its ambiguously situated moment of critique. or a conspiracy [complot] against culture.
who use reason only in order to justify their own cruelty and vice? For Klossowski. with regard to truth. passion. It is then the reader who must either assume or refuse the burden of guilt respecting the crimes perpetrated against her. For while enacting an ironic distance between oneself as author and the morality of the text is a standard technique of an esotericism. reason cannot lead the way to the correct desire. passions. Sade thus infects the reader with the responsibility for Justine by denying such responsibility himself. and as with Nietzsche. Signiﬁcantly. even selfeffacing.46 Reading Justine. polluting their imagination and good conscience. the book as well as the woman. where Sade disowns the ‘moral’ issued by the work – crudely. The use of reason is thus always already tainted.Textual Practice His commentary on Sade is depicted here as contagious.47 But if.48 on the other hand. then what are we to make of the arguments that issue from Sade’s philosophers. reason (‘the code of everyday signs’) can be understood precisely as an agent of contagion – promoting weakness of the organism – and the philosopher-villain dramatises this aspect of reason for him. Sade thereby puts into question the possibility of arriving at the right and good course of action through the use of reason alone: being utterly indifferent to one’s desires. Thus Sade’s esotericism represents not simply an effort to protect himself against political persecution. or value. the vehicle for this contagion of guilt – or ressentiment – is reason. that crime pays – arguing rather circuitously instead that even the most hardened and debauched reader will be touched by Justine’s torments. and would thereby be turned to the path of righteousness. this gesture of self-effacement echoes the introductory section of Justine. use reason cynically to further the pursuit of their desires: they are philosopher-villains. who gratuitously abuse the notion of truth. our objectives Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 56 . dealing in the works of a ‘perverse atheist’. pace Enlightenment thought. in a later work. Sade hands over to the reader responsibility for ‘Justine’. reason leads only to virtue. Reason is supposed to be exercised with indifference to motives and passions: the ‘philosophical-hero’ is typically austere. and values. as it is with the use of reason that the libertine philosopher-villains of the text practice their perverse pleasures at her expense. one is struck by the cruelty of which reason is capable. denying his authorship of Justine entirely44 – Sade radicalises the contagious effect of his writing. its more lasting rhetorical effect is to implicate the reader within his ‘bad’ philosophy.43 Perhaps by dissociating himself from the opinions of the characters about whom he writes – and.45 but also an instrument by which he contaminates the reader with his desire. The characters that Sade depicts in Justine and Philosophy in the Bedroom. By dissimulating his position as author of the text. or Good Conduct Well Chastised. and thus itself capable of inducing sickness and disgust in its reader.
Sade’s arguments would transmit to the reader his perverse passions – or those of the characters whom he disowns. our species being. The distinction between the ‘philosopher’ and the ‘villain’ – the one who dedicates himself only to reason. that they have come to be confused with reason – and in this way merely customary values are enshrined as inherently reasonable. and the vicious circle always already determined by the values that we pretend to efface in the appeal to it. it is a mockery of it. values and signs – based upon his perverse body and desires. Whilst by common standards their desires are aberrant and criminal. Thus. by setting up an alternative moral conversation that takes sodomy as its paradigm. Sade’s innovation is to put into the mouths of ‘philosophers’ whom all reasonable men would judge as perverts and degenerates. which becomes for him the basis of a new discourse. be superseded. procreation.49 According to Klossowski. and he who subjects reason to his passions – would thereby break down. However. Sade attempted to develop an alternative generality of writing – as a system of shared. It evinces an attitude not only of refusal but of aggression. Sade’s system offends and ridicules the values of conventional men. Sade sought belonging through his writing. so accustomed are we to the belief that they are only inferred from our reasoning. however. or as Klossowski nominates it. the most signiﬁcant in Sade’s eyes – that which strikes precisely at the law of the propagation of the species and thus bears witness to the death of the species in the individual. However. and a new community. the creation of a new type would also necessarily destabilize the old type: the present community. or ‘singularity’. Klossowski is Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 57 . This demonstrates the arbitrariness of reason’s application. in time. even decency.Joanne Faulkner The vision.50 Sade mocks what he takes to be a central tenet of conventional morality. Yet more importantly. the riddle. In the act of sodomy. [S]odomy is formulated by a speciﬁc gesture of countergenerality. it also gives Sade cause for hope that the values of his day could. In a further respect. The most potent signiﬁer of his type is ‘sodomy’. with the voice of reason they take on the appearance of normalcy. through the various turns and inversions of reason itself. in being a simulacrum of the act of generation. reasonable assertions that prove the exception. but it also mixes with excrement. not only is the seed spent ‘in vain’. which was also an expression of vengeance against those who demonstrated punitively that he did not belong. and makes fools and liars of the righteous and murderous men of his day: the revolutionaries of French republicanism who represented the ‘terror’ as following the dictates of reason. We forget the value of our values.
Klossowski indicates a selfdestructive possibility within reason whereby ‘the principle of identity itself disappears along with the absolute guarantor of this principle. it is also an appeal to tastes that accord to his own. the property of having a responsible ego is therewith morally and physically abolished’. however. that what the moral order rejects lies only barely beneath the surface of its highest echelons. Sade does not perform a ‘Kinseyan’ (or even Freudian) disarmament of sodomy’s offensive signiﬁcation. Rather. judges. but exploits and explodes them. thus signifying that corruption is already inherent to the system that morality apparently protects. then the consistent atheist would also need to relinquish the notion that ‘things’ are selfidentical.54 In other words. Together.Textual Practice careful to show that Sade’s transgression only functions as such by asserting itself with reference to the order that it seeks to undermine. Under the banner of ‘integral atheism’. by positing it as merely one sexual practice among others.53 In this way. or type. Sade presents himself to the Enlightenment philosopher as embodying the corruption of society and – what amounts to the same thing – the death of the human ‘species’. as an offence against God and human dignity. they would ‘reproduce’ their values. Sade developed a perverse community. as an undercurrent to culture. comprising his imaginary interlocutors in Philosophy in the Bedroom. or kept in store. In ‘The Philosopher-Villain’. sodomy retains for him the full force of its biblical signiﬁcance. and aristocrats as well as thieves and vagabonds. He writes: Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 In outrage what is outraged is maintained to serve as a support for transgression. the apparent maintenance of norms under which energy accumulates thereby making transgression necessary. if God were really dead. as this notion is inconsistent without a Creation mythology to underpin identity. That is to say. or the code of everyday signs. Klossowski presents the case that Sade’s writing is intended not only to offend – that. This is why Sade peoples his writings with priests.52 Counter-generality thus takes the meaning of its signiﬁers parasitically from the normative structure of culture. From the loneliness of his imprisonment. for Sade this alienation of the self 58 .51 Transgression presupposes the existing order. Klossowski notes. rather. the transgressive symbol accumulates its force to the extent that it is ‘repressed’. as well as the book’s (largely imaginary) readers. However. This critique from the perspective of integral atheism foreshadows the forfeit of identity that we ﬁnd in Klossowski’s reading of Nietzsche. using a language that rivals conventional usage. And like Nietzsche.
and the internal constraint that determines the sovereign individual’s manner of ‘insubordinate’ enjoyment. For. which rests on the insubordination of the life functions in the absence of any normative authority of the species. to be endlessly repeated. Central to this attempt to communicate a singularity is the concept of the simulacrum. Through the experience of return the subject renegotiates its own reﬂexivity by means of an ‘anamnesiac’ lucidity that recognizes the incongruity between the body and conscious thought. the world of selves and of things is also suspended. the secret communities embodying such a revaluation of values live among us as society’s most important elements. the riddle. And this is but the counterpart of integral monstrosity. Above all. Like most revolutions. The simulacrum represents a gnawing hollowness sewn into the normative fabric of society at its very beginning: the simulacrum makes ‘the real’ possible. wherein the notion of an afterlife is excluded. or whatever is understood to be natural and right. and against which irruption the real bolters itself. for Klossowski. including custodians of the law. While both symbolize to him the ‘sovereign individual’ whose uniqueness challenges the code of everyday signs. Similarly. which playfully and treacherously creates ‘truth’. By reﬁguring what is conventionally considered the most marginalised. what both simulacra recreate is the phantasm: the obsession according to which signs are conﬁgured. and the vicious circle takes place not only at the level of religion. but also bodily. 59 . psychology. recurrence is the signiﬁer of Nietzsche’s own ‘integral atheism’. the community that takes ‘universal prostitution’ as its goal is strangely consistent with the purveying system of values: it is the ‘rot’ society refuses to recognise as rigorously consequent of its organising principles. however. as Klossowski indicates in relation to sodomy. The simulacrum of recurrence is. a point of revolution that both articulates and dismantles identity. Sade can be understood to dismantle – or even revalue – the values of his day. Moreover.55 Klossowski’s interpretations of Sade and Nietzsche thus attest to a symmetry of purpose. each also attempts at once to signify and encrypt his difference. and dwells in the dissonances between ‘moments’: thus privileging becoming (chaos) over being (identity). He continues: Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 The ﬁrst consequence will be the universal prostitution of beings. abject sexual behavior as central.Joanne Faulkner The vision. With the death of God. or morality. or value. and ‘life’ itself is parodied as a vicious circle. or conventional morality. because it is that against which the real is opposed. so as to be understood only by those with the sensual capacity to share in the singular experience their writing attempts to reveal. the simulacrum mocks the ‘real’.
The price of sharing Nietzsche’s experience is the animation of a destructive impulse that strives to undo the self. as there must be a continuous commerce between them. That ‘muteness’. Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 Conclusion For Klossowski. the relationship between Nietzsche and his reader consists in a kind of cross-contamination at the level of ‘corporeality’. or pleasure in unpleasure) that both motivates and destabilizes the subject. the economy of signs. The impulse thus communicated is not withheld deep at the core Nietzsche’s body. indicated in Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle. selection by Nietzsche’s text does not so much accord one the security of the ‘hyperborean’. we may think of the phantasm as the corporeal remainder that resists representation only thus to form the basis of representation: as the unconscious connection between the self and its world. is the very stuff of a non-verbal (gestural) communication. This unexchangeable depth that would ordinarily evade. is the kernel of an irritation ( jouissance. as rendering the position of stable subject impossible for the reader. and perverts. and thereby to obscure and put at risk his integrity. is precisely what the simulacrum allows the reader to access. to the point that it is barely viable. Hence his designation for the 60 . without which language loses its texture and materiality. It is precisely in this sense that Klossowski can hold that Nietzsche’s body ‘communicates’ itself to the receptive other – the one whose own bodily impulsions accord to Nietzsche’s high tonality.Textual Practice The phantasm. as if its essential ‘atom’. The experience of having a position of privilege respecting Nietzsche’s text thus betrays the goal of being addressed by it: for. The reader is ‘chosen’ not by virtue of his integrity as an ‘individual’. but a sympathy that – perhaps unbeknownst to the reader – tears her apart as it binds her to Nietzsche. conceived as what resists encapsulation by language. in seclusion from the mundane affairs that despoil ‘lesser’ men. according to Klossowski. thus maintained by the simulacrum. Rather. criminals. Such ‘access’ takes the form of a feeling of sympathy with Nietzsche’s philosophy and his values. In this respect. the bodily remainder forms the ‘tissue’ that renders inter-subjective relations possible: a mood ‘inhabiting’ language as a surface that can only be communicated by way of mimicry. whilst also forming the basis for a counter-community of invalids. In stark contrast to other ‘esoteric’ interpretations – or readings that attribute a selective function to Nietzsche’s philosophy – Klossowski holds that the connection between the text and the reader is ambiguous in the extreme. In this manner. such an address already implies an attenuation of the position. or subsist beneath. but precisely to the extent that he is able to lose himself. or ‘soul tonality’.
The corporeal element thus communicated does not belong to ‘Nietzsche’ who. like Sade’s philosopher-villains. the corporealization of thought suggested by Klossowski consists in a manner of depersonalization: the expropriation of one’s ‘person’. on this occasion in the ﬁeld of text. so that Klossowski’s invocation of them in this context suggests the violation of the reader’s body by the texts she reads. all engaging in a mode of communal perversion. more contentiously. and that Klossowski. Yet upon examination. the concept of the simulacrum also demonstrates that the contagious sensuality indicated by Klossowski is inseparable from (albeit also opposed to) what is understood as merely textual – especially the texts one chooses. Both simulacra distort and dissimulate the notion of an original source of meaning or value. however. or by which one is chosen. Indeed. the riddle. the curious corporeality invoked by Klossowski suggests that such singularity is accessed only in relation to the texts of another. These contaminants. should take his pleasure from them according to the dictates of his own singularity. as Klossowski’s work shows us. Klossowski’s own conspiracy against his person is mediated by Nietzsche and Sade: as a ‘self-touching’ that explodes the self by dispersing it within their writings. La Trobe University Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 61 . The community engendered by the textual encounter with Nietzsche or Sade is therefore marked by a contagion of sickness and perversity. each might have refused. an algorithm) than bodily ‘matter’. is nothing ‘personal’. destroying rather than reproducing the species. In keeping with the self-destructive movement of the simulacrum at work in their texts. Hence the ‘conspiracy’ suggested by Klossowski’s readings of Nietzsche and Sade: a conspiracy that he insists takes place at the level of the person. and the already social self.Joanne Faulkner The vision. however. threaten the body’s integrity. is but a ﬁction. While sodomy is invoked by Klossowski as the simulacrum of sex. By means of the connection he draws between eternal recurrence and sodomy. Because the mute intensity is transmitted textually. Such violation. and both serve to demonstrate the self-destructiveness intrinsic to society. and the vicious circle community of sovereign individuals selected by the text as a ‘society of criminals and sodomites’. Klossowski ushers Nietzsche ` and Sade through a corps-a-corps that. the ﬁgure of recurrence symbolizes both a point of identiﬁcation and a vertiginous sense of the disintegration of identity. by deﬁnition. thus becoming the founding member of this posthumous secret society of perverts and invalids. it is perhaps only proper that this liaison remain ‘unauthorized’ by its participants. given the opportunity. Moreover. Klossowski is able to reverse the temporal order.56 This conspiracy against the species element within oneself is also a conspiracy in the more traditional sense: among equals who ﬁnd one another. What the encounter with Nietzsche’s texts accesses is not something exclusive to Nietzsche: the material exchanged through that encounter is more akin to a pulsation or mood (or. In this way.
that is both a body that thinks and an interpretative thinking that thinks about the body. 1989). language (metaphor) and culture in Nietzsche’s philosophy. 34– 5. 4 Pierre Klossowski. Illinois: Northwestern University Press. this phenomenon represents a mistaken identiﬁcation. Sean Hand (London: The Athlone Press. Illinois: Chicago University Press. See in particular Giorgio Agamben. Giorgio Agamben’s concept of ‘potentiality’. Alphonso Lingis (Evanston. trans. 1974). 7 See Friedrich Nietzsche. as the element of non-being implicit within all existence – or what must become opaque to form the background of articulation – also resembles Klossowski’s notion of mute singularity. square parentheses added.Textual Practice Notes 1 I would like to acknowledge The Institute for Advanced Study. Nietzsche: The Body and ´ Culture: Philosophy as a Philological Genealogy. I would like to thank an anonymous Textual Practice reviewer for pointing out this connection to Agamben and the critique of structuralism. he writes: Metaphor would then be an imaginary. 13. Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 62 . Stanley Rosen’s essay. the common thread between terms being interpretation. Preface §2. such as language or kinship relations. trans. 6 Friedrich Nietzsche. trans. synthesis. 3 See. making it possible to have a body thinking. Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy. 1989). and especially in the concepts of ‘desiring-production’ and ‘the body without organs’ in Anti-Oedipus. For instance. (Blondel. and not a speculative. such as Laurence Lampert. 5 Each of these philosophers respond to a theoretical tendency to overlook materiality in favor of structures imposed upon it. Sade My Neighbor. 1991). La Trobe University. and that they belong to the common ‘many’ who must misinterpret Nietzsche. or a constitutive inability on the part of many readers to appreciate the actual meaning of Nietzsche’s philosophy. California: Stanford University Press. for supporting the development of this article. Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future. whereas Foucault appeals to a ‘body’ both subtending and resisting inscription in volume one The History of Sexuality. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford. ‘Nietzsche’s Revolution’. Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle. Like other ‘esoteric’ readers of Nietzsche. for instance. This tenor in Deleuze can be seen in his work with Felix Guattari onward. trans. trans. The Ancients and the Moderns: Rethinking Modernity (New Haven and London: Yale University Press. Rosen appears to be amused that feminists and those from the political left often ﬁnd Nietzsche as appealing as those to the right of the political spectrum. 1997). p. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Books. trans. 8 See also Eric Blondel’s seminal text on the relation of the body. Blondel argues that this relation is circular. pp. and through which bodies acquire their meaning. 1999). The Gay Science. 2 Pierre Klossowski. Daniel W. Smith (Chicago. 1991). Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Books. According to these commentators. rather than the rare ‘few’ who might understand the meaning of his writing for philosophy and culture. Melbourne. §6.
emphasis in original). pp. 14 Ibid. 242) 9 Klossowski. 17 Ibid. Bataille. thinking.. 22 Ibid. Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle.e.... 21 Ibid. See Hill (2001. 53). Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle. trans. 24 Nietzsche’s notes contain much more sustained and worked through elaborations of eternal return. especially with respect to his account of the relation between the body and language. Klossowski.. p. p. p. emphasis in original. emphases in original. 10 Leslie Hill. At least in part. and Wittgenstein) most probabaly inﬂuenced the direction of his philosophy. over the place of the thought of eternal return. 54. p. and to be a perspective. p. and willing’ (p. Kierkegaard. Blanchot: Writing at the Limit (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. 31. the riddle. p. Kafka. second. 23 Ibid. 26. 16 Ibid.. 13. Lucidity refers ﬁrst to ‘the ‘physiological’ consciousness of oneself and of others’ (p. p. pp. p. feeling... Both Deleuze and Klossowski discuss the scientiﬁc ‘applications’ of eternal recurrence in terms of his critique of science and metaphysics. emphases in original. and to system. 2001). 15 Ibid. 24–5. p. This confrontation between Klossowski and Heidegger. to ‘the new consciousness of the more or less subtle ‘conditioning’ that underlies every mode of behaving. 27.. in which the idea is ‘tested’ against scientiﬁc theories of the day – i. p. emphasis in original) And: To interpret is to have a body. the former understands it precisely as a challenge to coherence and to metaphysics. and the vicious circle Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 Nietzsche. 13 Ibid. 33. 31. metaphysical system. mechanism (especially thermodynamics). 29. 53. 19 Klossowski provides three deﬁnitions for this term in Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle. 15–54 18 Ibid. 154. Benjamin.. Leslie Hill takes this further with her playful suggestion that Nietzsche et le cercle vicieux is a ‘translation’ – but a translation that responds to and inverts – Heidegger’s interpretation of eternal return as properly metaphysical. 1983). 12 Klossowski. 37. marks the cleavage between French and German scholarship on Nietzsche: while the latter interprets Nietzsche’s philosophy as a coherent. See Gilles Deleuze.Joanne Faulkner The vision. 63 . 239. 154 11 Klossowski’s extensive work in translating the texts of others (including ¨ Nietzsche. to ‘the thought of a total discordance between the hidden reality and the one that is claimed or admitted’ (p. p. Hugh Tomlinson (London: The Athlone Press. and third. p. p. (ibid. Nietzsche and Philosophy. Holderlin. 20 Ibid. this difference perhaps is attributable to variations in perspective and a way of life that supports each of the languages concerned. 30. Heidegger.. emphases in original).
R. Nietzsche as Philosopher (New York: Macmillan. and ‘The Vision and the Riddle’. If this thought gained possession of you. and so he is easily able to demonstrate the spuriousness of the thought scientiﬁcally. Arthur Danto’s account famously attempts to decipher the meaning of eternal return with reference to Nietzsche’s scientiﬁc elaborations of the idea (in his notes). pp. emphasis in original. See Arthur Danto. 27 Nietzsche. on the other hand.Textual Practice Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 25 Heidegger. life as celebration. Hugh Tomlinson (London: The Athlone Press. speck of dust!’ Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine’. Within the ‘analytic’ tradition of interpreting Nietzsche. trans. . The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again. and there will be nothing new in it. 1969). decline of life. 205–9. 273–4. Vols One and Two. Nietzsche and Philosophy. 39 –73. 228. it would change. and you with it. trans. 273–4. p. The passage reads in full: The greatest weight. and Klossowski each award eternal recurrence a central position within Nietzsche’s work. if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it. 28 This interpretation of return is summarized by Bernd Magnus. The Gay Science. Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle. trans. eternal recurrence plays a negligible part precisely because of such ambiguity about its meaning. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. The Gay Science. notwithstanding differences (both radical and subtle) between their accounts of why it is important.] is a visual and conceptual representation of a particular attitude toward life. the attitude which expresses ascending life. 1974). 1983). The attitude toward life Nietzsche wishes to portray is the opposite of decadence. world-weariness. David Farrell Krell (New York: HarperCollins Publishers 1991). Victoria: Penguin Books. and Gilles Deleuze. 142) 29 Klossowski. p. Nietzsche’s Existential Imperative (Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press. of overfullness. Hollingdale (Ringwood. pp. §341. life in celebration. Deleuze. and even this moment and I myself. He writes: Recurrence [. 64 . Nietzsche. 1965). pp. but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your live will have to return to you. (p. you as you are or perhaps crush you. if not existentially. pp. See Martin Heidegger. you will have to live once more and innumerable times more. 176–80. – What. . Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Books. 1978). §341. all in the same succession and sequence – even this spider and this moonlight between the trees. J. The attitude he wishes to portray is the attitude of afﬁrmation. 33. pp. trans. 26 See especially Friedrich Nietzsche.
emphasis in original. Weiss also writes in this text: the supposed ‘depth’ of our interior lives is but a series of ﬁctions. which is by nature non-communicable. the ‘singular’ is opposed not so much to the universal. drawn. Weiss brings out this double genesis of the simulacrum when he writes: ‘language is both the simulacrum of the common external resistance and the simulacrum of our singular phantasms’ (Weiss. through a forgetting of the differentiating qualities. perhaps a primal form according to which all leaves were woven. Ibid. Paul Taylor. 133. emphases in original. Allen S. Ibid. p. [A]t bottom. p. And here. As certainly as no one leaf is exactly similar to any other. Weiss. what these impulses express are what Klossowski calls ‘obstinate singularity’ of the human soul. p. accurately measured. what Nietzsche calls the ‘herd’. W. ‘Phantasm and Simulacra: The Drawings of Pierre Klossowski’. for Klossowski. which reduces its singularity to a common denominator. a something called the ‘leaf’. besides the leaves. p. emphases in original. 261.. Klossowski. and this idea now awakens the notion that in nature there is. and the ‘creativity of the sovereign individual’. so that no copy had turned out correct and trustworthy as a true copy of the primal form.Joanne Faulkner The vision. p. the riddle. emphases in original. p. Shibble (Wisconsin: The Language Press. Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle. forthcoming in Diacritics) 31 Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle. ed. crinkled. so certain is it that the idea ‘leaf’ has been formed through an arbitrary omission of these individual differences.. 133. ‘A Logic of the Simulacrum or Anti-Roberte’.. 133. 5) A nerve-stimulus. Special Issue of Art & Text 18 [ July 1985]. Allen S. eds Paul Foss. See especially where he writes: Every idea originates through equating the unequal. but by unskilled hands. and the vicious circle Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 30 I would like to thank Daniel Smith for providing me with his unpublished notes on Klossowski’s vocabulary in Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle. 4) 32 33 34 35 36 Klossowski. It is the constellation of impulses that makes each individual a ‘singular case’. He writes. p. and expresses only what can be communicated. ‘On Truth and Falsity in their Extramoral Sense’.. an ‘idiosyncrasy’. ‘the residue of signs deposited from the exterior’ (Pierre Klossowski. but to the gregarious. (Smith. 1972). p. (Ibid. ´ they constitute what he calls ‘the unexchangeable depth’ (le fond inechangeable) or ‘the unintelligible depth’ (le fond unintelligible) of the human soul. the species. ﬁrst transformed into a percept! First metaphor! The percept again copied into a sound! Second metaphor! And each time he leaps completely out of one sphere right into the midst of an entirely different one. 118).. Ibid. (Ibid. 260. Nietzsche 65 . meaning that the simulacrum is produced at the limit of two constraints: generality (the code of everyday signs). painted. Essays on Metaphor. coloured.
and all forms of stereotyped and idealised sublimation. 38 As Daniel Smith points out in the preface to his translation of Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle. So that they would appear more realistic. 39 As Allen S. and during the late Roman empire referred to the statues of the gods that lined the entrance to a city’ (p. and resonates easily with Nietzsche’s ‘free-spirit’. Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle. 260. feign). they would have appeared perfectly natural. ironically. Weiss puts this. of the loss of language’ (Weiss. the simulacrum distorts. [Mesnil-sur-l’Estree: Mercure de France. p. or feigns. and one will rub one’s own cheek 66 . 58). x). These Roman statues ‘reproduced’ a realism in excess of the original to which they were understood to refer: not only because what they represented was mythical – and so did not actually exist – but also because of the technique by means of which they achieved the representation. this is the obsessional constraint of the phantasm. the sovereign individual is not subject to the limits and superstitions of religion and morality that regulate society. In short. expression suffers a constraint: for the gregarious mentality. 41 With the use of the phrase ‘gestural communication’ I have in mind MerleauPonty’s account of inter-subjectivity in terms of the postural schema.Textual Practice Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 ´ et le Cercle Vicieux. p. 120. a mother will part her own lips when spooning food into her child’s mouth. 1969]. but rather the very sign of forgetting. the word ‘simulacrum’ ‘comes from the Latin simulare (to copy. whereas from an ‘objective’ point of view the statues might seem completely out of proportion. this is the constraint of collective censorship which is internalised as superego. ego ideal. from the point of view of those entering the city. so that one anticipates in one’s own movements the gestures of another. For instance. in order to produce the reality that it undercuts. This concept was resurrected by surrealist interpretations of Sade. p.. In this manner. p. emphasis in original. Either expression is falsiﬁed by the internalisation of the ‘code of everyday signs’. This works in reverse also. for the perverse. The sovereign individual takes ‘his’ law from Nature rather than society. (Ibid. made manifest as monomania (the polarisation of expression around certain signs or passions). represent. so as to counteract the diminishing effects of distance upon the viewer’s perspective. Or else it is sheer chaos. emphasis in original). of a unique experience.) In either case. one is able to learn through mimicry only because of a perceived continuity between one’s own body and the body of the other. 116) 37 Klossowski. ‘Eternal Return is not a dialectical process of instilling memory. or else a true expression of individuality is achieved and expressed as a perverse singular sign (Hence the famous Nietzschean opposition of the gregarious mentality of the herd to the creativity of the sovereign individual. sovereign mentality. Chieﬂy. According to this account. ‘A Logic of the Simulacrum’. 40 The notion of the sovereign individual was coined in relation to the libertinage movement of thought that culminated in Sade. these colossal ﬁgures were constructed larger at their highest point and smaller at the point closest to the viewer.
trans. but also traverses the bodies of others with whom one has formed a social relation. 1990] p. J. Delon argues that Sade utilises this double position for his own ends: ‘Sade plays ceaselessly on this double status of aristocrat and thinker. There are obvious similarities in this respect between Sade and Nietzsche. Dulaure characterised Sade in a revolutionary pamphlet as an ‘enemy of the revolution’. pp. de Sade. while ‘Sade the writer was read by the counter-revolutionaries as the incarnation of the ‘terror’ in writing’ (ibid. Sade’s libertines differ from earlier forms. 1992). and trans. and the vicious circle 42 43 44 45 46 47 upon seeing dirt on the cheek of the interlocutor. Richard Seaver and Austryn Wainhouse (New York: Grove Press Inc. the idea of ‘gestural communication’ describes a structural replication. California: Stanford University Press. 1989). p.. Romanistische Zeitschrift fur Literaturgeschichte 5  (1981). Austryn Wainhouse (New York and London: Marion Boyars. quoted in Klossowski. 1965). being identiﬁed by the Jacobins as a feudal lord. and not according to some quality essential to the body. The Complete Justine.. ed. and trans. p. and by monarchists as implicated in the revolution. xvii. my translation). Sade My Neighbor. of the lord full of his hereditary rights. D. 1989) p. Once transposed to Nietzsche’s philosophy. to aid a desire which ‘consummation entails not Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 67 . But further.. See Thomas DiPiero. 1965). rather than the transmission of actual material. See Michel ´ ´ ´ ¨ Delon.Joanne Faulkner The vision. in that rather than simply ridiculing and paying no head to reason. For instance. On the Genealogy of Morals. ‘Note Concerning My Detention’. or Good Conduct Well Chastised (1791)’. A. 4. who remains a ﬁgure of controversy in relation to German fascism. and Other Writings. Walter Kaufmann and R. See especially his master-slave narrative in Friedrich Nietzsche. ‘Sade comme revelateur ideologique’. they use reason as a weapon against their victims. p. Vol. The Complete Justine. Hollingdale (New York: Vintage Books. Philosophy in the Bedroom. F. 1569–1791 (Stanford. Thus. xxiv. my translation). de Sade. 153–4. D. pp. Philosophy in the Bedroom.. 69. I [Paris: Editions Gallimard. Pierre Klossowski. subjectivity extends not only to the whole of the individual’s body. In a separate article. Sade ´ Oeuvres. Delon argues that Sade mitigates against the notion of the political position – representing a ﬁgure in whom each ‘side’ projects their worst fears – and in this way revealing the limits of ideology. and Other Writings. ultimately embodying the limit of aristocratic danger (Michel Delon. Trans. Dangerous Truths and Criminal Passions: The Evolution of the French Novel. 457–8. Richard Seaver and Austryn Wainhouse (New York: Grove Press Inc. F. and philosopher supporting a new liberty’ (ibid. through the relations between forces. Thanks to one of my anonymous reviewers for directing me to Delon. Nietzsche’s appeal to ‘type’ designates a quality determined structurally. Michel Delon states well Sade’s invidious position in relation to the established political interests of his day. A. In this way. ed. the riddle. Roberte Ce Soir and The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes: Two Novels. bodily forces would rearrange themselves to conform to the conﬁguration of the other’s body: indeed. xix). ‘Justine. According to DiPiero.
which makes possible the exchange of individual singularities in the circuit of generality. I would like to thank an anonymous Textual Practice reviewer for making DiPiero’s work on Sade known to me. expressing a general will. 1965).. my emphasis) According to Klossowski. language is the means by which individuals come together. but also ‘being with’). the educational treatise – but in particular.. Thomas DiPiero. F. the convention of vraisemblance. Ibid. through the norms and values ‘reproduced and reconstituted’ therein. and social. emphases in original. possession of their victim. 24. through the use of reason. or similitude. He writes: Sade’s critics frequently gave plot synopses and summaries of the offensive scenes in their reviews. and not only physical. 49 With respect to the individual’s belongingness to the generality of language. but the annihilation of all personal and political ties that constitute the victim as the libertines’ other and which. and trans. 14. which makes logically structured language one with the general principle of understanding. Philosophy in the Bedroom. a subordination that ensures the preservation and propagation of the race. p. Sade as a singular case conceives his act of writing as verifying such belongingness. which suggests that it was not the acts that should 50 51 52 53 68 . Sade My Neighbor. 18. ed. p. The Complete Justine. ‘Philosophy in the Bedroom (1795)’. and by belonging to this generality claims to come to understand itself. in its structure this language reproduces and reconstitutes in the ﬁeld of communicative gestures the normative structure of the human race in individuals.Textual Practice Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 necessarily sexual release. block libertines from attaining full subjectivity’ (ibid. 343). commenting upon the rhetorical efﬁcacy of Justine. p. The medium of generality in Sade’s time is the logically structured language of the classical tradition. de Sade. (Klossowski. To this need to reproduce and perpetuate oneself which is in force in each individual there corresponds the need to reproduce and perpetuate oneself by language. p. This reciprocity is brought about only in conformity with the principle of identity or of noncontradiction. consequently. and there is no singular subject that exists apart from a relation to language. that is universal reason. 19. or Mitsein (meaning compassion. argues that Sade writes subversively by means of a style that parodies narrative conventions of his day – for instance. Whence the reciprocity of persuasion. and Other Writings.. Ibid. Klossowski writes: The peculiarly human act of writing presupposes a generality that a singular case claims to join. This normative structure is expressed physiologically by a subordination of the life functions.. the philosopher-villain takes moral. A. p. The ‘individual’ comprehends himself only by means of this general medium. Thus.. Ibid. 48 D. Richard Seaver and Austryn Wainhouse (New York: Grove Press Inc. spiritual.
54 Klossowski. ﬁrst-person narrative style. Pornography is. 69 . 55 Ibid. Pornography is the representation of that which should not be represented. who uses the means of this class not only against his own class. but also against the existing forms of the human species as a whole’. That narrative style evokes contemporary standards of vraisemblance. the real. . it either contradicts the expressed moral and political positions of the dominant social group – which is not the same thing as contradicting the actual or lived positions of that group – or it articulates the site of intense social and political conﬂict within a social structure. Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle. the riddle. p. clearly resonates with Klossowski’s understanding of the simulacrum as what simulates.] much of Justine’s rhetorical power derives from the contradiction between its naturalistic. but the speciﬁc narrative style used to describe them. p. xv). . always invraisemblable to the extent that it never portrays things as the discursively dominant class expressly states they should be. Sade’s unfettered and luxuriant use of language and narrative and the response they generated consequently provide us with a working deﬁnition of pornography in the late eighteenth century. or parodies. 19. and the preposterous experiences its principal narrator undergoes. thus. 334–5) This deployment of ‘vraisemblance’. Sade My Neighbor. 56 ‘[T]here is a Nietzschean conspiracy which is not that of a class but that of an isolated individual (like Sade). and the vicious circle Downloaded By: [University of Alberta] At: 20:21 10 October 2007 be censored. (Klossowski. and [. or verisimilitude.Joanne Faulkner The vision. Dangerous Truths and Criminal Passions. (DiPiero. pp.