Deleuze’s last publication, apparently. Introduction argues that Deleuze pushed forward a new sort of empiricism, “neither hermeneutic nor Fregean” (7Deleuze’s last publication, apparently. Introduction argues that Deleuze pushed forward a new sort of empiricism, “neither hermeneutic nor Fregean” (7). His “transcendental empiricism had been Deleuze’s way out of the difficulties introduced by Kant and continued the phenomenological search for an Urdoxa” (8). Deleuze’s concepts of ‘life’ and ‘immanence’ are deployed as against the old Lockean concept of ‘the self,’ which had included “consciousness, memory, and personal identity” (id.); Deleuze is rather interested in a “logic of impersonal individuation” (id.). This is a “logic of multiplicity that is neither dialectical nor transcendental” (10). His “plane of immanence requires a kind of ‘radical empiricism’” (11) that is not from Frege or Husserl. Contrary to the transcendental ego, author adopts “Hume’s humorous picture of the self as incorrigible illusion [of] how our lives ever acquire the consistency of an enduring self, given that it is born of ‘delirium, chance, indifference’” (13). Deleuze further regards Hume’s Dialogues on Natural Religion to be “the only genuine dialogue in the history of philosophy” (17), wherein one finds the argument that “God as well as the self [are] regarded as a fiction required by our nature” (id.).
The first essay concerns “a transcendental field,” “a pure stream of a-subjective consciousness, a pre-reflexive impersonal consciousness, a qualitative duration of consciousness without a self” (25). Am kinda scratching my head here, but it’s “a haecceity no longer of individuation but of singularization” (29). Am all for arguments against individuation, but this perhaps ain’t really one of those?
The second essay, ostensibly about Hume, probably should be read with author’s earlier pamphlet on humean empiricism (I haven’t got to that one yet, so, yaknow). Empiricism is “the reverse of rationalism,” “a critique of innateness, of the a priori”—“But empiricism has always harbored other secrets” (35). Hume’s empiricism is a “science fiction avant la letter,” as it happens (id.). A consideration of the old, somewhat silly ontological ‘problem’ of relations leads to the conclusion that “Hume will devote [cf. Agamben’s reading of devotio] himself to a concerted destruction of the three great terminal ideas of metaphysics: the Self, the World, and God” (39). Nice sentiment that the human mind, left alone, “has the capacity to move from one idea to another, but it does so at random, in a delirium that runs throughout the universe, creating fire dragons, winged horses, and monstrous giants” (41). Against these, we deploy the “constant rules” of “laws of passage, of transition, of inference” (id.). Hume gives to Kant the notion that “we are not threatened by error, rather and much worse, we bathe in delirium [NB: this must be a key figure]” (43). He attributes to Hume the development of “modern skepticism,” which is based on “the status of relations [ugh] and their exteriority” (44) and has three principles: “making belief the basis of knowledge,” “denouncing illegitimate beliefs” as those that defy probabilism, and establishing “beliefs in the Self, the World, and God” “as the horizon of all possible legitimate beliefs” (id.).
The third essay is on Nietzsche, and should also be read in conjunction with dude’s earlier text on same (and which text, again, I have not read). Noting that Nietzsche shed the burdens of “a certain nationalism and a certain sympathy for Bismarck” by 1870 (55), Deleuze argues that “the abandonment of old beliefs did not assume the form of a crisis,” which is kinda a cool way to read an intellectual transformation. Some time spent in analysis of Nietzsche’s ill health: “Illness is not a motive for a thinking subject, nor is it an object for thought: it constitutes, rather, a secret intersubjectivity at the heart of a single individual” (58). Nietzsche credited with replacing “the ideal of knowledge, the discovery of truth, with interpretation and evaluation” (65). Some agambenian interest in how “modes of life inspire ways of thinking; modes of thinking create ways of living” (66)—i.e., the plotinian eidos zoe. Something about philosophy and degeneration (68 ff). Asks, curiously, “did we kill God when we put man in his place and kept the most important thing, which is the place?” (71). (“In his work, there are at least fifteen [!!!!] versions of the death of God, all of them very beautiful” (72).) Something thereafter regarding slaves, nihilism, degeneracy again (74 ff). Nietzsche’s ‘psychological discoveries’ inhere in resentment, bad conscience, the ascetic ideal, the death of God, the ultimate man (77 ff). A reading of the eternal return (87 ff). Interpretations to avoid: that the will to power means a desire to dominate; that the most powerful in society is ‘the strong’; that the doctrine of the eternal return is an ancient cyclic mysticism; and that his final works are simply crazed (92).
Recommended for readers who dethrone the interiority of is, persons who think that the problem of governance is a matter of credibility rather than representation, and the killers of god, those ugliest of men. ...more
Text opens with a biographical note on Spinoza, but it is more a rumination based on Nietzsche’s belief that the “mystery of a philosopher’s life” wasText opens with a biographical note on Spinoza, but it is more a rumination based on Nietzsche’s belief that the “mystery of a philosopher’s life” was in how one “appropriates the ascetic virtues—humility, poverty, chastity—and makes them serve ends completely his own, extraordinary ends that are not very ascetic at all”; they are by contrast “an expression of his singularity” (3). These are not a morality, but the “effects of philosophy itself,” a superabundance that has “conquered thought and subordinated every other instinct to itself” (id.). For Spinoza, this is ‘Nature,’ “a life no longer lived on the basis of need, in terms of means and ends, but according to production, a productivity, a potency, in terms of causes and effects” (id.). For the agambenians, it might strike one as the philosopher’s bios, or perhaps even the eidos zoe, the form-of-life of the philosopher, wherein this form is inseparable from life itself, wherein the rule and the life coincide without remainder. Curious! (a philosopher is also marked out by ‘solitude’ in this FoL; perhaps a comparison with the eremite in Homo Sacer part VIII is in order.)
Spinoza may have spoken about the “harmfulness of revolutions” in a period wherein “’revolutionary’ ideology is permeated with theology and is often, as with the Calvinist part, in the service of politics of reaction” (9). Spinoza was interested in popular irrationality, in pride in enslavement, in the reasons that peoples fought for their own bondage—quite simply, he was curious about the existence of rightwing populism. Like the Frankfurt School centuries later, “Why is it so difficult not only to win but to bear freedom?” (10). This political critique extends to those “bent on self-destruction” and “the union of the tyrant and the slave” (12).
The basis of spinozist (love that adjectival form) ethics is a “triple denunciation of ‘consciousness,’ of ‘values,’ and of ‘sad passions’” (17), which led him to being accused contemporaneously of “materialism, immoralism, and atheism” (id.). Spinoza is famous for the doctrine of parallelism, which “does not consist merely in denying any real causality between the mind and the body, [but] disallows any primacy of the one over the other” (18). This results in a “reversal of the traditional principle on which Morality was founded as an enterprise of domination of the passions by consciousness” (id.). Plenty on this. Lotsa nifty insights, such as “the confusion that compromises the whole of ontology,” “the history of a long error whereby the command is mistaken for something to be understood, obedience for knowledge itself” (24), a fatal commingling of power with truth, one supposes. Ultimately, the Ethics as composed of “great theories” regarding “the oneness of substance, the univocity of the attributes, immanence, universal necessity, parallelism,” but also how the aforesaid “cannot be treated apart from the three practical theses concerning consciousness, values, and the sad passions” (28).
Thereafter follows a brief essay on the ‘letters on evil,’ which is correspondence with one Blyenbergh, a numbnut “amateur Calvinist theologian” (30), whom Spinoza crushed in a series of letters, via working out his ontological theses on composition/decomposition. The main section of the volume, however, is an index of concepts from the Ethics (44 ff); it is weighty, and likely only becomes fully significant if read directly in conjunction with the principal text for which it is supplement (my reading of the Ethics is 20 years distant, and accordingly I am an incompetent reader of this text). For instance, the article on ‘Mode’ (91 ff) includes the argument that “one of the essential points of Spinozism is in its identification of the ontological relationship of substances and modes [cf. Agamben HS IX, of course] with the epistemological relationship of essences and properties and the physical relationship of cause and effect” (loc. cit.). Or, the article on ‘Necessary’ (93 ff) notes that “Spinoza’s critique has two culminating points: nothing is possible in Nature; that is, the essences of nonexisting modes are not models or possibilities in a divine legislative intellect; there is nothing contingent in Nature; that is, existences are not produced through the action of a divine will which, in the manner of a prince, could have chosen a different world with different laws” (94). Or on ‘Power’ (97 ff): “one of the basic points of the Ethics consists in denying that God has any power analogous to that of a tyrant” (loc. cit.).
Thoughtful concluding essays on Spinoza’s intellectual development as well as his continuing relevance.
Recommended for those who believe in philosophy’s function as a radical enterprise of demystification, thinkers who conceal their boldest and least orthodox arguments in appendices and notes, and readers who present ethics as a theory of power rather than a theory of obligations. ...more
Apparently Sacher-Masoch actually did enjoy to “be subjected to punishments, humiliations, and even acute physical pain by an opulent fur-clad woman wApparently Sacher-Masoch actually did enjoy to “be subjected to punishments, humiliations, and even acute physical pain by an opulent fur-clad woman with a whip” (10). His series, the Heritage of Cain, includes the famous Venus in Furs, and was “intended first to express the burden of crime and suffering inherited by humanity” (12):
this apparent cruelty conceals the more secret theme of the coldness of Nature, of the steppe, of the icy image of the Mother wherein Cain discovers his own destiny; the coldness of the stern mother is in reality a transmutation of cruelty from which the new man emerges. The ‘mark’ of Cain indicates how the ‘heritage’ is to be used. Cain and Christ bear the same mark, which leads to the crucifixion of Man ‘who knows no sexual love, no property, no fatherland, no cause, no work.’ (12)
So, it’s not just about butthole pleasures, and the rusty trombone, and the dirty Sanchez, and the Cincinnati bowtie, and the pussy juice cocktail.
Sacher-Masoch is not to be “transposed” with de Sade, with “the instincts reversed,” some sort of bogus “unity of opposites,” an “unfair assumption of complementarity and dialectical unity” (13). Rather, when “we read Masoch we become aware that his universe has nothing to do with that of Sade” (id.). Based on the medical distinction between syndrome and symptom, author proposes that “sado-masochism is a syndrome” (14). In reading the history of medicine, Deleuze notes that “the doctor does not invent the illness, he dissociates symptoms that were previously grouped together, and links up others that were dissociated” (15).
That their names have been used to designate purported diseases (“two basic perversions”) is evidence of “the efficiency of literature” (15): “Sade and Masoch present unparalleled configurations of symptoms and signs” (16). When he coined masochism, Krafft-Ebing “was giving Masoch credit for having redefined a clinical entity not merely in terms of the link between pain and sexual pleasure, but in terms of something more fundamental connected with bondage and humiliation” (id).
Regarding de Sade:
In a text that ought to invalidate all theories relating Sade to Nazism, Georges Bataille explains that the language of Sade is paradoxical because it is essentially that of a victim. Only the victim can describe torture; the torturer necessarily uses the hypocritical language of established order and power. ‘As a general rule the torturer does not use the language of violence exerted by him in the name of established authority; he uses the language of authority.’ (17)
The 120 Days of Sodom “hinges on tales told to the libertines by ‘women chroniclers,’ and in principle the heroes [sic] may not take any initiative in anticipation of these tales” (18). In Sacher-Masoch, by contrast, “love affairs are always set in motion by anonymous letters, by the use of pseudonyms or by advertisements in newspapers. They must be regulated by contracts that formalize and verbalize the behavior of the partners” (18); all sex acts must be promised and described prior to their occurrence. Neither of these writers counts as pornography, but are rather “pornology because its erotic language cannot be reduced to the elementary functions of ordering and describing” (18).
In de Sade, “the libertine may put on an act of trying to convince and persuade […] but the intention to convince is merely apparent, for nothing is in fact more alien to the sadist than the wish to convince, to persuade, in short to educate. He is interested in something quite different, namely to demonstrate that reasoning itself is a form of violence” (18). In the course of the apparent reasoning, “the acts of violence inflicted on the victims are a mere reflection of a higher form of violence to which the demonstration testifies” (19). Sadism is broken into two components: the ‘personal’ (“directs and describes the personal violence of the sadist as well as his individual tastes” (19)) and the ‘impersonal’ (a “higher factor […] identifies the impersonal violence with an Idea of pure reason, with a terrible demonstration capable of subordinating the first element” (20)).
Sacher-Masoch has a “similar transcendence of the imperative and the descriptive toward a higher function” (20): “But in this case it is all persuasion and education” (id.). Instead of a victim being tortured by someone “enjoying her all the more because she is unconsenting and unpersuaded,” the masochist is a “victim [sic] in search of a torturer and who needs to educate, persuade, and conclude an alliance with the torturer” (20). Sadism accordingly requires no advertisements; “the masochist draws up contracts while the sadist abominates and destroys them” (id.) (for the masochist, “the contract represents the ideal form of the love-relationship” (75)). The sadists needs “institutions,” by contrast. These two types correspond to the medieval notion of traffic with the devil: “the sadist thinks in terms of institutionalized possession, the masochist in terms of contractual alliance” (20). Also: “While Sade is spinozistic and employs demonstrative reason, Masoch is platonic and proceeds by dialectical imagination” (22).
Whereas de Sade’s provocations are “obscene in themselves,” Sacher-Masoch’s are notable for their “unusual decency” (25). For the masochist, humiliation is a secondary gain; “we never see the naked body of the woman torturer; it is always wrapped in furs. The body of the victim [sic] remains in a strange state of indeterminacy except where it receives the blows” (26). Sadism however is rooted in “negation,” both as a “partial process and pure negation as a totalizing Idea” (id.). The sadist is disappointed in the impossibility of the perfect crime and has “an internal necessity that he evolves the idea of a delusion” (27). The sadist (in the 120 Days) “find excitement not in ‘what is here,’ but in ‘what is not here,’ the absent Object, ‘the idea of evil’” (28). We might note also “the monotony of sadism,” its repetitiveness (id.).
As to fetishism: for de Sade, it occurs “only in a secondary or distorted sense”; it is “divested of its essential relation to disavowal and suspense and passes into the totally different context of negativity and negation” (32). In Sacher-Masoch, “there can be no masochism without fetishism in the primary sense” (id.): “It is no exaggeration to say that Masoch was the first novelist to make use of suspense as an essential ingredient of romantic fiction” (33). The latter’s “aesthetic and dramatic suspense” vs. the former’s “mechanical, cumulative repetition” (34). This is why Sacher-Masoch has no obscenity: it is suspended (“The whip or the sword that never strikes, the fur that never discloses the flesh, the heel that is forever descending” (70)). For de Sade, “imperatives and descriptions transcend themselves toward the higher function of demonstration”; for Sacher-Masoch, “imperatives and descriptions also achieve a transcendent function, but it is of a mythical and dialectical order. Ergo, “the fundamental distinction between sadism and masochism can be summarized in the contrasting processes of the negative and negation on the one hand, and of disavowal and suspense on the other” (35).
Some suggestion that a certain “excess” is required for eroticism, and in deploying the excess, these writers set up a “counter-language” (37). Dunno. But: no doubt that “a genuine sadist could never tolerate a masochistic victim” (40), and no doubt likewise that “neither would the masochist tolerate a truly sadistic torturer” (41); the former sends away the voluntary, and the latter needs to persuade. These incompatibilities militate against any sort of complementarity:
The woman torturer of masochism cannot be sadistic precisely because she is in the masochistic situation, she is an integral part of it, a realization of the masochistic fantasy. She belongs in the masochistic world, not in the sense that she has the same tastes as her victim, but because her ‘sadism’ is of a kind never found in the sadist; it is as it were the double or the reflection of masochism. The same is true of the sadist. The victim cannot be masochistic, not merely because the libertine would be irked if she were to experience pleasure, but because the victim of the sadist belongs entirely to the world of sadism. (41)
Some philistine stuff follows regarding the ‘types’ of ‘women’ in Sacher-Masoch (47 ff), laden with untenable principles of differentiation (e.g., “as a reaction to man’s [sic] heightened consciousness woman developed sentimentality” (54) eww?). And then after is an even worse chapter on the Freudian implications (57 ff). C’mon already. (It does draw out a contrast: “there is between sadism and masochism an irreducible dissymmetry: sadism stands for the active negation of the mother and the inflation of the father (who is placed above the law [cf. Agamben]); masochism proceeds by a twofold disavowal, a positive, idealizing disavowal of the mother (who is identified with the law) and an invalidating disavowal of the father (who is expelled from the symbolic order)” (68)).
Chapter on Sacher-Masoch’s express aesthetic doctrine, which he terms “supersensualism,” which describes a “cultural state of transmuted sensuality” wherein “the senses become ‘theoreticians’” (69) (I know, right?). The masochistic ‘hero’ is exercised by works of art (“women become exciting when they are indistinguishable [!!!!] from cold statues” (69). We had already read that the women of Sacher-Masoch are “always the same woman” (47) with whip and furs, despite outward appearances—a fungibility that is supergross. But here, even as the masochistic torturers all enter into a zone of indistinction, so too she coincides without remainder with inanimate objects—very much Agamben’s reading of Aristotle’s doctrine of slavery in The Use of Bodies--the masochist ‘uses’ the body of the torturer as though it were inanimate. Even so, “masochism is a state of waiting; the masochist experiences waiting in its pure form” (71).
In de Sade, however, the libertines “are not art lovers” (69). Rather, he relies “on quantitative techniques of accumulation and acceleration, mechanically grounded in a materialistic theory” (70). Great little note that equates the masochist with ancient slaves, who were allegedly held via contract (likely true in some cases, such as those held as sponsor, say)—“the masochist appears to be held by real chains, but in fact he is bound by his word alone” (75), which kinda rubbishes the call to arms at the end of the Manifesto of the Communist Party regarding “you have nothing to lose but your chains”; if the proletarians are bound by word alone, who cares about chains? We know from Blake that the salient bounds are words alone:
In every cry of every Man, In every Infants cry of fear, In every voice: in every ban, The mind-forg'd manacles I hear
Marx & Engels barking up the wrong tree, then? Mind-forged manacles are basically everywhere; de Sade, recall, “thinks in terms of ‘institutions,’ Masoch in terms of ‘the contract’” (76-77). The latter “presupposes in principle the free consent of the contracting parties” whereas the former “determine a long-term state of affairs which is both involuntary and inalienable” (77). Both have political implications. On the one hand, de Sade “rejects any contractual conception of the republican regime and is even more strongly against the idea of the law” (77-78). He preferred “the revolutionary republic as an institution based on opposition to both law and contract,” perhaps presented with some irony, however (78). The politics of Sacher-Masoch are “the humorous converse of Sade” (id.).
Some reflections thereafter on Plato, Kant, Kafka, more Freud, &c.
Recommended for those who may be disturbed when Krafft-Ebing used their name to designate a perversion, bearers of the mark of Cain, and readers who appear to be held by real chains but in fact are bound by words alone. ...more
Some striking arguments here, such as how the theory of discipline and panopticism in Discipline and Punish is “magistral but obsolete” (34).
ApparentlSome striking arguments here, such as how the theory of discipline and panopticism in Discipline and Punish is “magistral but obsolete” (34).
Apparently, “ours is a culture of premature ejaculation” (39)? The body “to which we constantly refer has no other reality than that of the sexual and productive model” (40). In objecting to Foucault’s reasoning:
Why wouldn’t sex, like madness, have gone through a confinement phase in which the terms of certain forms of reason and a dominant moral system were fomented before sex and madness, according to a logic of exclusion […]? (47)
The basic criticism: “Foucault unmasks all the final or causal illusions concerning power, but he does not tell us anything concerning the simulacrum of power itself. Power is the irreversible principle of organization because it fabricates the real” (50). F apparently fails to see that “power is never there and that its institution, like the institution of spatial perspective versus ‘real’ space in the Renaissance, is only a simulation of perspective—it is no more reality than economic accumulation [!]” (51). Be advised: “seduction is stronger than production” (55).
B: “radicality is not a more sublime virtue of theory” (74). Fairly plain that Baudrillard is not appreciating Foucault, something about the Foucauldian critique not carried far enough. Dunno, somewhat opaque.
Recommended for those who used sex to give themselves a glorious body, readers who think that the real is no more than a stockpile of dead matter, and greasers who believe that masturbation has become a categorical imperative....more
Forward by scholar recalls that D&G’s language regarding “the idea of the machine producing effects is not used metaphorically or symbolically butForward by scholar recalls that D&G’s language regarding “the idea of the machine producing effects is not used metaphorically or symbolically but always in the most concrete sense” (xv).
Translator introduces the text with:
Even the key words of the Deleuze-Guattari procedure, words like rhizome, lines of escape, assemblage, become battle-sites for a process of deterritorialization as the authors violate their own proprietary authorship of terms and make the words tremble, stutter. […] Seeming to refer to fixed conceptual fields, the words seem initially territorialized, literally the guardians of two inviolate and irrevocably distinct conceptual realms. But a kind of sliding contagion occurs, and through the course of the book, each term comes to refer to elements within the original territorial space of the other term. So, to a large extent, the translation lets the words slide […] each engaging in unsystematic war-machine attacks on the other. (xxvii)
Of course, the translator’s reading of the notion of ‘territorialization’ does quite a bit of work in territorializing ‘territorialization’ itself, which is kinda cool.
Principal argument is fairly straightforward. The basic assumption: “What Kafka anguishes or rejoices in is not the father or the superego or some sort of signifier but the American technocratic apparatus or the Russian bureaucracy or the machinery of Fascism” (12). In response to the “inhumanness of the ‘diabolical powers’” aforesaid, Kafka answers with one of D&G’s favorite concepts, “becoming-animal: to become a beetle, to become a dog, to become an ape, ‘head over heels and away,’ rather than lowering one’s head and remaining a bureaucrat, inspector, judge, or judged” (id.). This may be a form of deterritorialization/reterritorialization, surely: “The acts of becoming-animal are the exact opposite of [spiritual reterritorialization]; these are absolute deterritorializations, at least in principle, that penetrate deep into the desert world invested in by Kafka” (13). The animals “never refer to a mythology or archetypes but correspond solely to new levels, zones of liberated intensities where contents free themselves from their forms as well as from their expressions, from the signifier that formalized them” (id.). Similarly, “Kafka deliberately kills all metaphor, all symbolism, all signification, no less than all designation. Metamorphosis is the contrary of metaphor” (22). Again, “there is nothing metaphoric about the becoming-animal” (35).
The key chapter (the third) is the definition of a ‘minor literature’: “A minor literature doesn’t come from a minor language; it is rather that which a minority constructs within a major language” (16). It is marked out by a language “affected with a high coefficient of deterritorialization” (id.): “Kafka marks the impasse that bars access to writing for the Jews of Prague and turns their literature into something impossible—the impossibility of not writing, the impossibility of writing in German, the impossibility of writing otherwise” (id.). This group has “an irreducible distance from their primitive Czech territoriality” (id.); Prague German is a deterritorialized language, appropriate for strange and minor uses,” immediately conjuring the association with “blacks [sic] in America [sic] today” (17). Minor literature’s second characteristic is that “everything in them is political” (id.); the third characteristic: “everything takes on a collective value” (id.).
The three characteristics are “the deterritorialization of language, the connection of the individual [sic] to a political immediacy, and the collective assemblage of enunciation” (18), leading to the inference that “minor no longer designates specific literatures but the revolutionary conditions for every literature within the heart of what is called great (or established) literature” (id.). On this basis, the notions of marginal, popular, proletarian literatures might be meaningfully built, say. There is in fact “nothing that is major or revolutionary except the minor. To hate all languages of masters” (26).
Nice note about the “three worst themes” in the literature on Kafka: “the transcendence of the law, the interiority of guilt, the subjectivity of enunciation,” which are “connected to all the stupidities [!] written about allegory, metaphor, and symbolism in Kafka” (45).
Thereafter follows an analysis of the forms/genres used by Kafka (28 ff), some Kantian considerations (43 ff), some various Freudian ruminations, &c.
Recommended for those who translate everything into assemblages, readers who proliferate doubles until they become indefinite, and penetrators or an unlimited field of immanence.
Begins by noting that capitalism has developed to the point of needing “the organization of a counterrevolution” for its defense, which includes not oBegins by noting that capitalism has developed to the point of needing “the organization of a counterrevolution” for its defense, which includes not only “wholesale massacres in Indochina, Indonesia, the Congo, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the Sudan” of the left, but also in its extreme moment, the Third Reich (1). Radical students are shot (Kent State, Jackson State); African American leaders are shot (MLK, X, the Panthers); liberal presidents are shot.
Enjoins that socialism must not only “augment the quantity of goods and services in order to abolish all poverty,” but also “must change the quality of existence” regarding the needs to be satisfied and the quantum requisite for satisfaction (3).
Axiomatic that “revolutionary consciousness has always expressed itself only in revolutionary situations,” but now “the condition of the working class in society at large militates against the development of such consciousness”—a standard Frankfurt position (6). Rather, “benefits accorded to the metropolitan working class thanks to surplus profits, neocolonial exploitation, the military budget, and gigantic government subventions” constitute an infrastructural integration of the proletariat into the system that Marxism asks it to overthrow—the class i.e., “has much more to lose than its chains” (id.). This integration at the level of infrastructure is as yet a “surface phenomenon” insofar as “it hides the disintegrating, centrifugal tendencies of which it is itself an expression” (id.): “the monopolistic economy creates conditions and generates needs which threaten to explode the capitalist framework” (id.); “it is the overwhelming wealth of capitalism which will bring about its collapse” (7)—which is a bit more of an orthodox position. The rationale here is that “the established system preserves itself only through the global destruction of resources, of nature, of human life, and the objective conditions for making an end to it prevail” (7)—which reminds one of Dutt’s prediction in Fascism and Social Revolution about the Third Reich. The ‘objective conditions’ are fairly obvious: “a social wealth sufficient to abolish poverty; the technical know-how to develop the available resources systematically toward this goal; a ruling class which wastes, arrests, and annihilates the productive forces; the growth of anticapitalist forces which reduce the reservoir of exploitation; and a vast working class” (id.).
The significance of ‘working class’ is to be expanded: quoting Capital, Marcuse notes that “’the concept of productive labor is necessarily enlarged,’ and with it the concept of the productive worker […] The change is not merely quantitative” (13)—“the enlarged universe of exploitation is a totality of machines—human, economic, political, military, educational [shades of D&G’s ‘machinic assemblages’ there?]. It is controlled by a hierarchy of ever more specialized ‘professional’ managers, politicians, generals” (id.). We see Neumann’s thesis from the Behemoth that “at the base of the pyramid atomization prevails” (14). We also see shades of Foucauldian biopolitics with statements such as “Capital now produces, for the majority of the population in the metropoles, not so much material privation as steered satisfaction of needs, while making the entire human being—intelligence and senses—into an object of administration [NB: the agambenian language from HS V], geared to produce and reproduce not only the goods but also the values and promises of the system” (14). It is all false consciousness (or Sloterdijk’s enlightened false consciousness, perhaps): “behind the technological veil, behind the political veil of democracy, appears the reality [still as yet dialectical unmasking], the universal servitude, the loss of human dignity in a prefabricated freedom of choice [cf. Agamben on dignity, and on Kant, of course]” (id.). Regarding the ‘veil of democracy,’ “a president is sold like an automobile, and it seems hopelessly old-fashioned to judge his political statements in terms of their truth or falsehood—what validates them is their vote-keeping or vote-getting quality” (15)—which seems perfectly descriptive of the 2016 election.
Regarding the wealth of capitalism as its gravedigger, we find that “the emergence of transcendent needs operate behind the back of the capitalist managers, and they are generated by the mode of production itself” to the extent that the “growing productivity of labor, accompanied by a declining use of human labor power” necessitates the internal expansion of the market, the counterpart to external imperialism” (18-19). That is, as productivity increases but the workforce decreases, who the fuck is buying all the crap churned out by robot factories?
The argument walks through the now familiar critiques of the system (declining real wages, consumerism, and so on). However: “’consumer society’ is a misnomer of the first order, for rarely has a society so systematically been organized in the interests which control production” (23). This is not fascism, and, even if it were, “history does not repeat itself exactly, and a higher stage of capitalistic development in the United States would call for a higher stage of fascism” (25).
That said, “the potential mass base for social change may well become the mass base for fascism,” quoting a journalist thereafter for the now very fucking reasonable proposition that “we may well be the first people to go Fascist by the democratic vote” (id.). Liberalism and fascism are related via the conjunction “liberal democracy is the face of the propertied classes when they are not afraid, fascism when they are afraid” (id.). On this basis, author diagnoses a “proto-fascist syndrome,” which includes the things already mentioned, but also an anecdote about some Darwin Award winning parent who believed that the Kent State kids deserved to be shot, even if her own son were there (27): “we’ve got to clean up this nation And we’ll start with the long-hairs.” Prisons, the normalization of war and war crimes, and so on are “a frightening reservoir of violence in everyday life” and “indicates a proto-fascist potential” (28).
Some salient internal critique of the left here, such as “petrified rhetoric” as “false consciousness” (29) and the “Falsification of Marxian theory through its ritualization” (33). Also, the left has always been divided as a matter of structural necessity, whereas “the defenders of the status quo” have a tangible interest compelling their unity (36). The left might on occasion enact a “fetishism of labor” (38). AS far as the old orthodox position goes,
if the working class no is no longer this ‘absolute negation’ of the existing society, if it has become a class in this society, sharing its needs and aspirations, then the transfer of power to the working class alone (no matter in what form) does not assure the transition to socialism as a qualitatively different society. The working class itself must change if it is to become the power that effects this transition. (39)
Otherwise, author recommends against ‘seizure of power’ as a radical goal in the advanced cappie states, mostly because “concentration of overwhelming military and police power” and the “reformist consciousness among the working classes” (43).
Regards direct democracy as “an essential demand of leftist strategy” (45), which is cool. Also wants to “eliminate the need for production of waste and planned obsolescence” (46). Critiques of “the new individualism” (“private rebellion”) (48) and “objective ambivalence” (49).
The second chapter concerns some ecological argument, with which I am somewhat enervated. Some Kantian arguments here (66 ff). Third chapter concerns ‘art and revolution’ (79 ff), with which I am in partial disagreement, such as his notion that the continued relevance of ancient and medieval texts testifies to their revelation of the “human condition” as well as their responsiveness to certain “constant qualities” (87)—whereas my position is that the texts produce the consciousness in their readers requisite for their own reception: the text is a product that nevertheless labors upon the mind.
Anyway, “permanent aesthetic subversion—this is the way of art” (107).
Recommended for those who fight against pollution as a way of life, harbingers of a fully developed fascist system, and readers who confuse the psychological and ontological realm.
Odd forward that admits that the title is “lightly yet respectfully plagiarized” and that the text “may contain some ideas that are not alien to Kant”Odd forward that admits that the title is “lightly yet respectfully plagiarized” and that the text “may contain some ideas that are not alien to Kant” (vii). Summarizes the three essays as the first essay as written by “a philosopher trained in the analytical tradition […] allergic to Hegel” the second written by “a sociologist trained in the tradition that regarded all philosophy as absurd and dangerous,” and the third written “by a philosopher, an authority on Hegel, who considers the contemporary analytical tradition dangerous” (id.).
Wolff argues that “political tolerance is that state of mind and condition of society which enables a pluralist democracy to function” (4). However, “whatever the virtues of classical liberalism as a theory of the ideal political community, it was very quickly recognized to be inadequate as a portrait of the industrial democracy which emerged in the nineteenth century” (6). Tolerance is defined as “the ungrudging acknowledgement of the right of opposed interests to exist and be pursued” (21). Further: “pluralism is the condition which a modern industrial democracy must possess to function at all, but tolerance is the state of mind which enables it to function well” (23). Permutations and criticisms handled, runs up against the unsurpassable limit: “Pluralism, both as theory and as practice, simply does not acknowledge the possibility of wholesale reorganization of the society. By insisting on the group nature of society, it denies the existence of society-wide interests—save the purely procedural interests in preserving the system” (51). This form of democracy, “with its virtue, tolerance, constitutes the highest stage in the political development of industrial capitalism” (id.). It is “humane, benevolent, accommodating, and far more responsive to the evils of social injustice than either the egoistic liberalism or the traditionalistic conservatism from which it grew. But pluralism is fatally blind to the evils which afflict the entire body politic, and as a theory of society it obstructs consideration of precisely the sorts of thoroughgoing social revisions which may be needed” (52).
Moore argues that “toleration implies the existence of a distinctive procedure for testing ideas, resembling due process in the realm of law” (63). We needn’t accept any particular idea, but tolerance requires their serious consideration. Works through hypotheticals regarding the conflicts of a Marxist & conservative historian (55 ff) as well as waking into the Third Reich (67 ff). Notes that we can’t draw easy distinctions between “violence, dictatorship, and fanaticism” on the one hand and “freedom, constitutionalism, and civil liberties” on the other (74)—the link of “revolutionary violence” is there (id.) (and this should summon the readings of Benjamin’s “Critique of Violence” in both Derrida’s Force of Law and Agamben’s State of Exception). Ends with the notion that “science is tolerant of reason, relentlessly intolerant of unreason” (79).
Most significantly, Marcuse begins with the premise that “tolerance is an end in itself” (82), part of the suppression of violence, “required for protecting man and animal from cruelty and aggression” as “precondition for the creation of a humane society” (id). We are of course not there yet: “tolerance is extended to policies, conditions, and modes of behavior which should not be tolerated because they are impeding, if not destroying, the chances of creating an existence without fear and misery” (id.)—such as bombing Vietnam, say. “This sort of tolerance strengthens the tyranny of the majority against which authentic liberals protested” (id.). Accordingly, “tolerance toward what is radically evil now appears as good because it serves the cohesion of the whole on the road to affluence” (83). Argues therefore against “indiscriminate tolerance” (Baudelaire is cited for the notion of “destructive tolerance”) (88), as justified in academic debates and required for science and religion—but “society cannot be indiscriminate where the pacification of existence, where freedom and happiness themselves are at stake: here, certain things cannot be said, certain ideas cannot be expressed, certain policies cannot be proposed, certain behavior cannot be permitted without making tolerance an instrument for the continuation of servitude” (88). (He disagrees with the censorship of art in a digression (89).)
He carries the argument to “the telos of tolerance is truth” (90), and reminds the reader that it arises out of doctrinal strife: “of the Albigensians, Waldensians, Lollards, and Hussites” (91): “tolerance is first and foremost for the sake of the heretics.” Noting that “intolerance has delayed progress and has prolonged the slaughter and torture of innocents for hundreds of years,” he asks “does this clinch the case for pure tolerance?” (91). He finds that “the democratic argument for abstract tolerance tends to be invalidated by the invalidation of the democratic process itself” (95), wherein “effective dissent” is blocked by monopolistic practices, Orwellian mechanisms, and so on. “The decision between opposed opinions has been made before the presentation and discussion get under way—made, not by a conspiracy or a sponsor or a publisher, not by any dictatorship, but rather by the normal course of events,’ which is the course of administered events [cf. Agamben], and by the mentality shaped n this course” (97). It’s all somewhat proto-baudrillard:
it is the whole which determines the truth. Then the decision asserts itself, without any open violation of objectivity, in such things as the make-up of a newspaper (with the breaking up of vital information into bits interspersed between extraneous material, irrelevant items, relegating of some radically negative news to an obscure place), in the juxtaposition of gorgeous ads with unmitigated horrors, in the introduction and interruption of the broadcasting of facts by overwhelming commercials. The result is the neutralization of opposites, a neutralization, however, that takes place on the firm grounds of the structural limitation of tolerance (97-98)
These “factual barriers which totalitarian democracy [sic] erects against the efficacy of qualitative dissent are weak and pleasant enough compared with the practices of a dictatorship which claims to educate the people in the truth” (99). The democratic tolerance is of course more humane than the dictatorship: “the question is whether this is the only alternative.”
To have that discussion is “to re-examine the issue of violence and the traditional distinction between violent and non-violent action” (102). At a certain point, non-violence transforms dialectically into violence, as with the Indian passive resistance or the general strike (103); “Robespierre’s distinction between the terror of liberty and the terror of despotism, and his moral glorification of the former belongs to the most convincingly condemned aberrations, even if the white terror was more bloody than the red terror. However:
In terms of historical function, there is a difference between revolutionary violence and reactionary violence, between violence practiced by the oppressed and by the oppressors. In terms of ethics, both forms of violence are inhuman and evil—but since when is history made in accordance with ethical standards? To start applying them at the point where the oppressed rebel against the oppressors, the have-nots against the haves is serving the cause of actual violence by weakening the protest against it. (103)
He therefore proposes the distinction between true and false tolerance, regressive and progressive tolerance (104 ff). These distinctions can be “made rationally on empirical grounds” (105), such as “it is possible to define the direction in which prevailing institutions, policies, opinions would have to be changed in order to improve the chance of a peace that is not identical to a cold war and a little hot war, and a satisfaction of needs which does not feed on poverty, oppression, and exploitation” (id.). “Suppression of the regressive ones is a prerequisite for the strengthening of the progressive ones” (106). This is based on a logic similar to Horkheimer in The Eclipse of Reason, wherein he laments the dominance of instrumental reason over the objective rationality of ends determination; here Marcuse has his eyes on the motherfucking prize.
Noting the objection that this is a “cancellation of the liberal creed of free and equal discussion” (id.), he concludes that an “impossible consequence” follows: “withdrawal of tolerance from regressive movements, and discriminatory tolerance in favor of progressive tendencies would be tantamount to the ‘official’ promotion of subversion” (107). Notes that violence from below has often pushed civilization forward, citing a number of revolutions and uprisings (108—some may look with downcast eyes upon mention of the Chinese revolution, though I suspect he means 1911). By contrast, “historical violence emanating from among the ruling classes” does not have this relation to progress (id.).
The key is accordingly in a “liberating tolerance,” intolerant to movements from the Right, tolerant to the Left (109). No wonder this text gets cited with derision by exercised Trump-voters and teabaggers and other deplorables. The stakes: “if democratic tolerance had been withdrawn when the future leaders started their campaign, mankind would have had a chance of avoiding Auschwitz” (109). So, yeah, fuck you, deplorables. What we have is a “marketplace of ideas” controlled by a monopolist: “in this society, for which the ideologists have proclaimed the ‘end of ideology,’ the false consciousness has become the general consciousness” (110).
It should be evident by now that the exercise of civil rights by those who don’t have them presupposes the withdrawal of civil rights from those who prevent their exercise, and that liberation of the Damned of the Earth presupposes suppression not only of their old but also of their new masters. (110)
The thesis that tolerance should be withdrawn from reactionary ideas is conceded to be “anti-democratic,” but also is a response to “the actual development of the democratic society which has destroyed the basis for universal tolerance […] When tolerance mainly serves the protection and preservation of a repressive society, when it serves to neutralize opposition and to render men immune against other and better forms of life [eidos zoe!], then tolerance has been perverted. (111) Admits that “this is censorship, even pre-censorship, but openly directed against the more or less hidden censorship that permeates the free media” (111) (cf. Chomsky there). Good times.
Recommended for those who would prefer primary group diversity to a universal levelling of differences, readers who can agree only on trivial and superficial facts, and persons who break the historical continuum of injustice, cruelty, and silence....more
Opens with the premise that opposition to capitalism globally is met with “the sustained power of this dominion: its economic and military hold in theOpens with the premise that opposition to capitalism globally is met with “the sustained power of this dominion: its economic and military hold in the four continents, its neocolonial empire, and, most important, its unshaken capacity to subject the majority of the underlying population to its overwhelming productivity and force” (vii). One effect of capitalist capacity for violence is the keeping of the socialist bloc on the defensive, “all too costly not only in terms of military expenditures but also in the perpetuation of a repressive bureaucracy” (id.), which has the effect of vitiating the socialist project. He identifies in this context a revolution that “struggles to eschew the bureaucratic administration [sic] of socialism” (viii), citing Vietnam, Cuba, and China as examples (the text is written in 1969).
Am again not so sure about the opening when it diagnoses that “human freedom cannot be built by the established societies” (6) and then proposes the remedy of “a political practice which reaches the roots of containment and contentment in the infrastructure of man, a political practice of methodological disengagement from and refusal of the Establishment, aiming at a radical transvaluation of values” (id.)—eww?
Argument proper identifies the “potential for liberation” in the material basis, “available material and intellectual resources” (7). Though there may internal opposition, “the armed class struggle is waged outside: by the wretched of the earth who fight the affluent monster” (id.). Critical analysis of the foregoing requires “new categories,” which leads, somehow, to “the category of obscenity will serve as an introduction” (id.). Probably a rightward turn in the argument that “this society is obscene in producing and indecently exposing a stifling abundance of wares while depriving its victims abroad of the necessities of life” (id.). Author recognizes that “obscenity is a moral concept in the verbal arsenal of the Establishment” (8), which suggests to me that, whatever the value of immanent critique, perhaps we don’t need to adopt stale establishment moralisms? Author does modify the import by suggesting that nudity is not obscene, but rather “a fully clad general who exposes his medals” (8): “obscene is not the ritual of the Hippies but the declaration of a high dignitary of the Church that war is necessary for peace” (id.). He wants to resuscitate morality as “not necessarily and not primarily ideological,” but rather “in the face of an amoral society, it becomes a political weapon” (id.).
Obscenity triggers shame, and arises from the “sexual sphere”; the shame is oedipal (9) (I know, right?). This is all in service the thesis that there is a “biological foundation for socialism”—and it’s kinda annoying, the Freudian refrain. There are some nifty ideas along the way, such as the point that a car and a television aren’t repressive, but are “part and parcel of the people’s own existence, own actualization” and therefore “they have to buy part and parcel of their own existence on the market; this existence is the realization of capital” (12). The cappies have “turned to socially productive use frustration and primary aggressiveness on an unprecedented scale – unprecedented not in terms of the quantity of violence but rather in terms of its capacity to produce long-range contentment and satisfaction, to reproduce ‘voluntary servitude’” (13).
Assumes that “happiness is an objective condition which demands more than subjective feelings” in laying out the thesis that for as long as a hobbesian bellum omnium contra omnes prevails, “the happiness of the ones must coexist with the suffering of others” (14). An example is the contrast between ghettos in the US, which reveal how “the glaring contrast between the privileged class and the exploited leads to a radicalization” (16). The working class, “by virtue of its sharing the stabilizing needs of the system […] has become a conservative, even counterrevolutionary force” (id.). These are arguments that must frustrate orthodox Marxists; they are signature Frankfurt—and they apply with full force and effect in the era of the Trump regime. Radicalization among the impoverished is “counteracted by a socially engineered arrest of consciousness” (16), the imposition of some ideology to prevent the formation of class-for-itself: althusserian ISAs, surely? Some useful argumentation about the realms of freedom/necessity from classical Marxism (17 ff), and the preservation of freedom within necessity. Not sure. Could be good.
Lengthy chapter regarding the alleged “new sensibility”—which concerns “the ascent of the life instincts over aggressiveness and guilt” (23), strikes me as somewhat philistine. Lotsa stuff regarding the ‘aesthetic dimension’ (see e.g. 26 et seq.), which of course is the title of another Marcuse text, to which all should refer. We do know that “the aesthetic morality is the opposite of puritanism” (28), so that’s cool. Some useful commentary on Kant (28 ff), which fits nicely with Deleuze’s text on Kant’s critical philosophy. Lots here, easily summarized with “was the Parthenon worth the sufferings of a single slave? Is it possible to write poetry after Auschwitz?” (44).
Something about “an aesthetic ethos of socialism” (48), which is intellectually interesting, but not my normal approach to the subject.
An interesting argument regarding the lumpenproletariat becoming a radical force—Marcuse dismisses this as nonsense (51). The “changing composition of the working class” is however acknowledged (55). Dude explains that the transition from a “nonrevolutionary to a prerevolutionary situation” entails the “political work” of “radical enlightenment” (57).
Acknowledges that “the student movement is not a revolutionary force” (60). The “dialectics of democracy” involve the notion that the establishment of proper democracy is contingent upon the “abolition of the existing pseudo-democracy” (65).
Quite correct: “The old story: right against right – the positive, codified, enforceable right of the existing society against the negative, unwritten, unenforceable right of transcendence which part of the very existence of man in history” (71).
Recommended for those who recognize that impoverishment does not necessarily provide the soil for revolution, readers whose continuing exploitation is not only hidden behind a technological veil but is actually transfigured, and persons experiencing the dematerialization of labor....more
I’m fond of these cute little pamphlets by Deleuze, almost as though they were primers he’s written for pedagogical purposes, or perhaps his book repoI’m fond of these cute little pamphlets by Deleuze, almost as though they were primers he’s written for pedagogical purposes, or perhaps his book reports after studying up on the subject matter. Either way, they’re lucid and quick and curious in ways that the more baroque and theoretical texts are not.
Text opens with a clever summation of Kant via quotations from Shakespeare (“the time is out of joint”), Rimbaud (“I is another” and “a disorder of all the senses”), and Kafka (“the Good is what the Law says”) (vii ff). The second Rimbaud quotation leads to the inference of “terrible struggle” within the subject (xii), “a tempest in the depths of a chasm,” wherein “the faculties confront one another, each stretched to its own limit, and find their accord in a fundamental discord: a discordant accord is the great discovery” of the third critique (xii).
Introduction is an overview of the transcendental method, which is targeted contra rationalism and empiricism both. On the one hand, “only the cultural ends of reason can be described as absolutely final” (1), but on the other, “supreme ends are not only ends of reason” (2), as “in positing them, reason posits nothing other than itself.” The main thrust of the transcendental method is “an immanent critique—reason as the judge of reason” (3).
Kant’s critical philosophy introduces a number of diremptions into the mind (nothing new there: Plato and Aristotle cut the pneuma (or psuche?) into different parts, after all): Deleuze construes them as “faculties,” such as the ‘faculty of knowledge’ or the ‘faculty of desire.’ This is the first sense, wherein “‘faculty’ refers to the different relationships of a representation in general” (7); the second sense “denotes the specific source of representations” (id.), such as ‘intuitions’ from ‘sensibility,’ ‘concepts’ from the ‘understanding,’ and ‘ideas’ from ‘reason’ (8). Overall, “our constitution is such that we have one receptive faculty and three active faculties” (9)—I think intuitive sensibility is the receptive one, whereas the active ones are imagination, understanding, and reason.
Three basic sections—one for each critique. The reading of the Critique of Pure Reason starts with Kant’s Copernican Revolution—“Substituting the principle of a necessary submission of object to subject for the idea of a harmony between subject and object” (14). The engine of this is that “the faculty of knowledge is legislative,” which means that “the rational being discovers that he has new powers” (id.). The essay covers much of the Critique’s ideas, such as “phenomena are necessarily subject to the categories; so much so that, through the categories, we are the true legislators of Nature” (16). Whereas the legislative understanding ‘judges,’ the “imagination schematizes” (18). But “reason reasons” (id.). Plenty here about ‘common sense,’ the principle of intrasubjective accord, and so on. We see that “understanding and reason are deeply tormented by the ambition to make things in themselves known to us” and Kant notes that we suffer “internal illusions and illegitimate uses of the faculties,” such as when the imagination “dreams rather than schematizes” (24). This leads directly to the “speculative illusions of Reason” wherein “the transcendental employment of the understanding derives simply from the fact that it neglects its own limits, whilst the transcendent employment of reason enjoins us to exceed the bounds of the understanding” (25). One error is when “the understanding claims to know something in general,” which can only mean knowledge of the noumenon, though it is impossible for same to be “a positive object for our understanding” (26).
The Critique of Practical Reason lays out the position that “the moral law orders us to think the maxim of our will as ‘the principle of a universal legislation.’ An action which withstands this logical test, that is to say an action whose maxim can be thought without contradiction as universal law, is at least consistent with morality” (28). Reason’s role here in the faculty of desire is to legislate as ‘pure practical reason’ (I know, right!) (id.). Kant assumes a “free will,” and “the reciprocal implication is such that practical reason and freedom are, perhaps, one and the same” (29). But: if “everything is the effect of something else on to infinity, and each cause is connected to a preceding cause,” and freedom can only be “defined by its power to begin a state spontaneously,” then it follows more or less inexorably that “the concept of freedom cannot represent a phenomenon, but only a thing in itself, which is not given to intuition” (30). The salient conceptual diremption here is the “great gulf between the two domains” (32) of legislation by natural concepts (the understanding in the faculty of knowledge over phenomena regarding their sensible nature) and legislation by the concept of freedom (reason in the faculty of desire over noumena regarding their suprasensible nature) (31). So far, so good: however, pure practical reason gets adulterated with impurities--
The Critique of Pure Reason thus condemns the transcendent employment of a speculative reason which claims to legislate by itself; the Critique of Practical Reason condemns the transcendent employment of a practical reason which, instead of legislating by itself, lets itself be empirically conditioned. (36-37)
The main danger regarding practical reason is “believing that Kantian morality remains indifferent to its own realization,” i.e., “the abyss between the sensible world and the suprasensible world exists only in order to be filled” (39): “we must realize that the same being is phenomenon and thing in itself” (40). The ‘realization’ aforesaid is possible in an “accord between sensible nature (following its laws) and suprasensible nature (following its law)” (41)—a “proportion between happiness and morality” (42). This produces an antimony: “the desire for happiness cannot be the motive of virtue [!]; but it also seems that the maxim of virtue cannot be the cause of happiness, since the moral law does not legislate over the sensible world” (42). Crazy! What now?
The Critique of Judgment is to resolve the antimony. As “aesthetic pleasure is independent both of the speculative interest and the practical interest and indeed is itself defined as completely disinterested” (47), it is furthermore “powerless to legislate over objects”—“judgment can be only heautonomous, that is, it legislates over itself” (48). This ‘faculty of feeling’ “has no domain (neither phenomena nor things in themselves” (id.)). Because “there is an accord between the imagination as free and the understanding as indeterminate” (49), Kant has a problem: “the universality of aesthetic pleasure” is explained by “the free accord of the faculties,” but “is it sufficient to assume this free accord, to suppose it a priori?” i.e., “should aesthetic common sense not be the object of a genesis, of a properly transcendental genesis?” (50). This gets worked out, apparently, via the Beautiful/Sublime distinction. Whereas the former involves only understanding and imagination (no role for reason), in the latter “imagination surrenders itself to an activity quite distinct from that of formal reflection” (50):
the feeling of the sublime is experienced when faced with the formless or the deformed (immensity or power). It is as though the imagination were confronted with its own limit, forced to strain to the utmost, experiencing a violence which stretches it to the extremity of its power […] Faced with immensity, the imagination experiences the inadequacy of this maximum, and ‘in its fruitless efforts to extend this limit, recoils upon itself.’” (50)
The Beautiful is not exactly uncomplicated, however, such as in this “Kantian dictum”: “he who leaves a museum to turn toward the beauties of nature deserves respect” (56). Plenty more on taste, teleology, finality, and so on.
The text concludes with a meditation on Kant’s notion of the “ends of reason,” which apparently is “the organization of rational beings under the moral law” (72)—which strikes me as completely deactivated by Horkheimer’s critique of instrumental reason in The Eclipse of Reason.
Recommended for those who cannot help but dream of a knowledge of things in themselves, readers who ought to be considered as ends-in-themselves, and persons who need to move from a natural teleology to a physical teleology....more
This text seeks to challenge the “predominant orthodoxy” of Marxist aesthetics (ix). The basic thesis: “I see the political potential of art in art itThis text seeks to challenge the “predominant orthodoxy” of Marxist aesthetics (ix). The basic thesis: “I see the political potential of art in art itself, in the aesthetic form as such. […] art is largely autonomous vis a vis the given social relations” (id.). Some bizarre idealism in the proposition that there’s an aesthetic “standard that remains constant” (x), and that there’re “demonstrable qualitative differences” between different texts (id.). Despite that silliness, political commitment in the notion that “the world really is as it appears in the work of art” (xii):
This thesis implies that literature is not revolutionary because it is written for the working class or for ‘the revolution.’ Literature can be called revolutionary in a meaningful sense only with reference to itself, as content having become form. The political potential of art lies in its own aesthetic dimension. Its relation to praxis is inexorably indirect, mediated, and frustrating. The more immediately political the work of art, the more it reduces the power of estrangement and the radical, transcendent goals of change. (xii-xiii).
Under this principle, there is more subversive potential in de Maistre devotee Baudelaire than in Brecht (xiii).
Opening premise is that aesthetic considerations demand justification in the “situation where the miserable reality can be changed only through radical praxis” (1). The easy answer is that what art expresses are “Essential components of revolution” (id.). This is not an orthodox position, and Marcuse is gunning for several orthodox Marxist ideas in this argument: art as related to the material basis, art as connected to class, revolutionary content and aesthetic merit as coinciding, the writer’s political obligation, the declining class as productive only of decadence, and realism as the preferred mode (1-2), art as mere class-bound ideology, say. Marcuse contest these on the basis of the “subjectivity of individuals” (3), a necessary component of revolution; he doubts that subjectivity doctrine is a ‘bourgeois notion’ (4). Further, he argues
the radical qualities of art, that is to say [cf. Agamben on Plotinus on this phrase], its indictment of the established reality and its invocation of the beautiful image (schoner Schein) of liberation are grounded precisely in the dimensions where art transcends its social determination and emancipates itself from the given universe of discourse (6)
This is its subversive function. Aesthetic sublimation has an affirmative character and desublimation, a negating character (7). The affirmative character arises out of an Aristotelian catharsis, apparently, insofar as the aesthetic form permits the work to “call fate by its name, to demystify its force, to give the word to the victims” (10). (Catharsis is “an ontological rather than a psychological event,” NB (59).)
Aesthetic form is defined as “the result of the transformation of a given content (actual or historical, personal or social fact) into a self-contained whole: a poem, play, novel, etc. The work is this ‘taken out’ of the constant process of reality and assumes a significance and truth of its own” (8). The work “represents reality while accusing it” (id.). A work is “authentic [!] or true not by virtue of its content (i.e., the ‘correct’ representation of social conditions), nor by its pure form, but by the content having become form” (id.)—very much not an orthodox or Soviet position. This is art’s autonomy, which does not produce false consciousness, but rather “counter-consciousness: negation of the realistic-conformist mind” (9). Repression, unfreedom, and so on can only be represented “in an estranging form” (10); “only as estrangement does art fulfill a cognitive function; it communicates truths not communicable in any other language” (id.). (Some thoughtful comments on brechtian estrangement (43 ff).) The “autonomy of art contains the categorical imperative: ‘things must change’” (13); the “necessity of revolution is presupposed, as the a priori of art” (14). Art’s autonomy is ultimately a reflection of “the unfreedom of individuals in the unfree society” (72).
Against the orthodox position that art is related to the material basis, Marcuse argues that “Marxist aesthetics must explain why Greek tragedy and the medieval epic, for example, can still be experienced today as ‘great,’ ‘authentic’ literature, even though they pertain to ancient slave society and feudalism” (15). The answer, of course, is that reception based on residual subject positions carried in readers as inherited dogmatism are responsive to ancient forms, through which the ancient forms work to produce the consciousness requisite for the finding that the texts are great or authentic or whatever—there’s no need for transhistoricism, even in refuting the vulgar position. Even so, it is plain that not everyone finds ancient texts great or authentic, alienated precisely by the antiquation or the slave society content and so on; that school kids are generally coerced to read the classics might suggest that there is little transhistorical value here. Author is otherwise quite correct that aesthetics can’t be controlled by the class character of the artist (18), or the presence vel non of the oppressed class in the text (19). He adopts Benjamin’s notion of ‘consciousness of crisis,’ wherein rightwing writers (Baudelaire, say) deploy “a pleasure in decay, in destruction, in the beauty of evil; a celebration of the asocial, of the anomic—the secret rebellion of the bourgeois against his own class” (20). I happen to think of the quoted ideas as lumpenized antisocial nihilist, and that they are inherently fascistic—we need not adopt the rightwing objection to liberalism in making our own opposition; we kinda want those to the right of liberalism to cease & desist, too.
Anticipates Baudrillard in proclaiming that art’s autonomy from the basis allows it to challenge “the monopoly of the established reality to determine what is ‘real,’ and it does so by creating a fictitious world which is nevertheless ‘more real than reality itself’” (22). Wants to proclaim “the individualization of the social” (25) as a virtue, as against the orthodox position that “the privatization of the social, the sublimation of reality, the idealization of love and death are […] conformist and repressive ideology” (26). Defines, rather than describes, the proletariat as “free from the values of this society and thus free for the liberation of all” (30), which strikes me as the worst sort of wishful thinking after 2016. Important caveat in “art cannot change the world, but it can contribute to changing the consciousness and drives” of those who are to make the change (32).
Nifty agambenian resonance in “the possibility of an alliance between ‘the people’ and art presupposes that the men and women administered [sic] by monopoly capitalism unlearn the language, concepts, and images of this administration” (37)—i.e., such things, per Agamben, must become inoperative: “we are experiencing, not the destruction of every whole, every unit or unity, every meaning, but rather the rule and power of the whole, the superimposed, administered unification. Not disintegration but reproduction and integration of that which is, is the catastrophe” (50). Indeed, “administered human beings today reproduce their own repression and eschew a rupture with the given reality” (71).
Some annoying Freudian discussion here and there; some irritation at language such as “instinctual structure of individuals” (17), which is doubly silly. Some arguments about pornography (40 ff). The happy ending is “the other of art,” it seems (47); the work of art “does not conceal that which is—it reveals” (56). The “dialectic of affirmation and negation, consolation and sorrow is the dialectic of the Beautiful” (62).
Recommended for species beings capable of classless society, those who are bulwarks against a society that administers all dimensions of human existence, and readers who make necessity into choice and alienation into self-realization....more
Part IX of author’s Homo Sacer project, a fitting finale.
Some curious outworks here, such as the preface calling into question the pars destruens/parsPart IX of author’s Homo Sacer project, a fitting finale.
Some curious outworks here, such as the preface calling into question the pars destruens/pars construens distinction and suggesting that they coincide without remainder (xiii), and likewise noting that the “arche that archaeology brings to light is not homogeneous to the presuppositions that it has neutralized; it is given entirely and only in their collapse. Its work is their inoperativity” (id.).
The prologue follows, working over Guy Debord and the “central contradiction” that the situationists were unable to overcome, “that the genuinely political element consists precisely in this incommunicable, almost ridiculous clandestinity of private life” (xv)—“the clandestine, our form-of-life” is thought to preserve “the stowaway of the political, the other face of the arcanum imperii (xvi). Debord’s notion of “intense life” that is “inverted and falsified by the spectacle” is read as the bios/zoe distinction—“politically qualified life and bare life, public life and private life, vegetative life and a life of relation” (xix). Private life accompanying as a clandestinity or stowaway—separated yet inseparable, the “corporeal life” of the alimentary canal, sleep, sex (again, Bakhtin’s grotesque body)—leading up to the reference to de Sade’s castle Silling, “in which political power has no object other than the vegetative life of bodies” (xxi). (The ZoI of public/private has its threshold in the intimate, perhaps, infra.)
Text proper is three essays of uncertain interrelatedness: the first concerns the sequellae of the Aristotelian theory of slavery; the second, an “Archaeology of Ontology,” which is perhaps an ambitious title for what is essentially an outline of what the argument might be, rather than the argument itself; and a definitive working out of the form-of-life apparatus.
Part I commences with Aristotle’s definition of “the nature of the slave” as “the use of the body” (3)—households (oikos) are composed of slaves and free persons, and the ‘despotic’ relation obtains between master and slave (id.). The slave is human and yet “is by its nature of another and not of itself,” which leads Aristotle to wonder if slavery is contrary to nature. Because Aristotle is more or less a numbnut, he distinguishes despotic commands (soul over body) and political commands (intelligence over appetite), and makes the analogical argument that because these (tautological) relations are proper, so too are command relations among human persons (4). Eww?
Slave in Aristotle is an “automaton or animate instrument” even though in modern terms the slave is more similar to fixed capital than to the proletarian (11). Because bios is a praxis, the slave “is an assistant for things of praxis (12). Assuming a “community of life between slave and master” (13), the Aristotelian might conclude that “the master is really using his own body” in using the slave (14). We see in the “oneirocritical acumen” of Artemidorus “the indetermination of the two bodies” and “the ‘serviceable’ hand of the master is equivalent to the [sexual] service of the slave” (18). The slave therefore as a sort of homo sacer insofar as “the special status of slaves—at once excluded from and included in humanity, as those not properly human beings who make it possible for others to be human—has as its consequence a cancellation and confounding of the limits that separate physis from nomos” (20). Slave as what “renders possible for others the bios politikos, that is to say [hoion NB], the truly human life. And if the human being is defined for the Greeks through a dialectic between physis and nomos, zoe and bios, then the slave, like bare life, stands at the threshold that separates and joins them” (id.). The (tremendous) mini-essay on the aristotelian theory of the slave concludes with a tidy summation of the ‘use of the body’—which amounts to an inoperativity, a zone of indifference between one’s own and another’s body, a zone of indifference between an inanimate instrument and a living thing, neither praxis nor poiesis nor the modern concept of ‘labor,’ and the condition of possibility of bios (22-3).
Thereafter, the first essay contains useful excogitation on chresis (24 ff), Foucault’s aesthetics (31 ff), the notion of ‘use’ for Heidegger (38 ff), a cool mini-archaeology on oikeiosis, the ‘appropriation of the self to self’ (49 ff),a mini-archaeology on hexis/habitus as related to the central thematic (58 ff), the relation of the slave to technology (66 ff), and the concluding chapter regarding the notion ‘inappropriability’ (80 ff), which is labor intensive and warrants careful reading:
Against the attempt to appropriate the inappropriable to oneself, by means of right or force, in order to constitute it as an arcanum of sovereignty, it is necessary to remember that intimacy can preserve its political meaning only on condition that it remains inappropriable. What is common is never a property but only the inappropiable. The sharing of this inappropriable is love, that ‘use of the loved object’ of which the Sadean universe constitutes the most serious and instructive parody. 93)
The volume’s second essay, the archaeology of ontology, is premised upon the notion that, for post-kantian philosophy, we can only think first philosophy as an archaeology (111), a “memory of anthropogenesis” (id.) insofar as it is the “memory and repetition” of “becoming human,” watching over our “the historical a priori” (id.). This latter notion, deployed famously by Foucault and arising perhaps from Husserl, is an aporetic, for the a priori “entails a paradigmatic and transcendental dimension” whereas history “refers to an eminently factual reality” (112). Agamben will preserve the aporetic, however, to the extent that the “contradictory formulation brings to expression the fact that every historical study inevitably runs up against a constitutive dishomogeneity” (id.). This sort of philosophical archaeology is the bringing forth of “the various historical a prioris that condition the history of humanity and define its epochs” (id.). Our own historical a priori is likely the “impossibility of first philosophy” that prevails in the post-kantian world (113). First section takes up the Aristotelian notion of ousia, as distinguished from hypokeimenon, sub-iectum, ‘that which lies under’ (115). Lotsa stuff on this, connecting up to the general HS series thematics with “the bare life of homo sacer is the irreducible hypostasis that appears between [bios and zoe] to testify to the impossibility of their identity as much as their distinction” (133), which is something of a shift from earlier conceptions of this distinction.
The next section is a thoughtful rumination on the ‘theory of hypostases,’ which originates in Aristotle as the term used to describe animal “excrement as the remainder of nourishment” (136), but which for Stoicism and Neoplatonism becomes a replacement for the ousia (135). As described in extreme detail in volume V, “the doctrine of the hypostases attains its decisive development in Trinitarian theology” (140). Author acknowledges the “problem of individuation” in this context (143), though perhaps that warrants its own volume. Upshot of this section is that the trinity is caught up in the aporia of how “the relative is at once included and excluded in the absolute, in the sense that—according to the etymology of the term ex-ceptio--it has been ‘captured outside,’ which is to say [hoion NB], included by means of exclusion [cf. volume I & II]” (144). This aporia follows Christianity to the present moment, an inheritance of the Aristotelian aporetics aforesaid, and curable only by resorting to an alternative ontology.
Section 3 of the second essay offers the alternative in ‘modal ontology’ (146 ff). It's all of less interest, am thinking, but for what it’s worth:
we have called ‘use’ a medial process of this kind [cf. Scott’s [book: The Question of Ethics Nietzsche, Foucault, Heidegger] regarding the middle voice]. In a modal ontology, being uses-itself, that is to say [!], it constitutes, expresses, and loves[?] itself in the affection that it receives from its own modifications. (165)
So, yeah, that’s crazier than a shithouse rat, but otherwise we’re on track.
Third essay is the bomb. Begins with an archaeology of zoe itself, noting that this initially is “not a medical-scientific notion but a philosophico-political concept” (195)—all the Marxists are now saying ‘yeah, duh?’
In Aristotle, the political community (full of bios) is contingent upon the community of bare life that supports it (i.e., “slaves and animals,” i.e., zoe) (197); the point of articulation between these two is autarkeia, a condition where the “population has reached the just numeric consistency” (id.). Apparently bios is always autarchic:
That is to say [!], autarchy, like stasis [cf. volume III], is a biopolitical operator, which allows or negates the passage from the community of life to the political community, from simple zoe to politically qualified life. (198)
Lots on this and what follows from it. Suffice it to mention that all of this meditation is prefatory to “the term form-of-life,” i.e., “a life that can never be separated from its form, a life in which it is never possible to isolate and keep distinct something like bare life” (207) (and cf. volume VIII). Hobbes, Benjamin, Bataille, Foucault: plenty to be said. Plotinus, Agamben argues, creates a “new bio-ontology” with the concept eidos zoe, form of life (218).
The argument collapses bios and with “it is a matter of rendering both bios and zoe inoperative [!], so that form-of-life can appear as the tertium [ i.e., Derrida’s triton genus] that will become thinkable only starting from this inoperativity, from this coinciding” (225).
Agamben pulls personal ads from a French newspaper regarding “modes of life,” such as “Young juggler, pretty, feminine, spiritual, seeks young woman 20-30, similar profile to be united in the G-spot” (230). Dude reads this as “a complete success and, at the same time, an irreparable failure” in communicating a form-of-life (id.). This is “as if something decisive—and, so to speak [!], unequivocally public and political—has collapsed to such a degree into the idiocy of the private [cf. M&E] that is becoming forever unrecognizable” (id.). Though definition of self through “hobbies” is apparently standard, it is nevertheless” necessary to decisively subtract tastes from the aesthetic dimension and rediscover their ontological character, in order to find in them something like a new ethical territory” (231). Apparently the form-of-life “corresponds to this ontology of style” (233) wherein “a singularity bears witness to itself.”
Some notes on the rhetoric of intimacy/exile (phyge) (234 ff); the apolis as “one who is cut off from all political community” (236) as laid out in the Antigone--this is the deinos, the terrible, a concept applicable to the exiled and the stateless. For Agamben’s stealth favorite Plotinus, the political ban (“flight of one alone with one alone”) is some sort of ‘superpolitical and apolitical’ moment, a form-of-life that is beyond the bios/zoe dialectic, a “new and happy intimacy of an alone by oneself, as a cipher of a superior politics.” Aristotle’s thigein (touching) is his characterization of thought, and Agamben runs with this as a ‘metaphysical interstice’ (that language from one Giorgio Colli) wherein “two entities are separated only by a void of representation” (237). The plotinian alone-by-itself defines “the structure of every form-of-life” but it is also applicable to the polis: “this thigein, this contact that the juridical order and politics seek by all means to capture and represent in a relation” (id.). Our politics
constitutively ‘representative,’ because it always already has to reformulate contact into the form of a relation. It will therefore be necessary to think politics as an intimacy unmediated by any articulation or representation: human beings, forms-of-life are in contact, but this is unrepresentable because it consists precisely in a representative void, that is, in the deactivation and inoperativity of every representation. To the ontology of non-relation and use there must correspond a non-representative politics. (237)
I am duly overwhelmed. Other cool things elsewise, including an epilogue that attempts something of a tying-together summation of the entire Homo Sacer project, which project is construed as an “archaeology of politics” (263)--no one can say that Agamben lacks intellectual ambition.
Recommended for those who would liberate the human being from the narrow limits of serviceability, persons who are void because they are only suspensions of animality, and readers who see that destitution coincides without remainder with constitution....more
Statement of purpose: “to construct a form-of-life, that is to say [hoion], a life that is linked so closelyPart VIII of author's Homo Sacer project.
Statement of purpose: “to construct a form-of-life, that is to say [hoion], a life that is linked so closely to its form that it proves to be inseparable from it” (xi).
Monastic rules, “a peculiar literature” (3), as object of study. Some work early in distinguishing genre: monastic rules are not juridical, not history, not hagiography, not ecclesiastical, not hypomneumata (4). The texts are “monotonous” and “difficult to the modern reader,” and yet they embody a transformation, a “radical reformulation of the very conceptuality that up until that moment articulated the relationship between human action and norm, ‘life’ and ‘rule,’ and without which the political and ethical-juridical rationality of the modern world would be unthinkable” (id.). Therein the rule “seems to be mixed up with life without remainder” (id.), a hoion wherein life and rule are indistinguishable.
Oblique approach to the genre follows, analyzing express parodies of monastic rules in Rabelais and de Sade before actually getting to the rules themselves. In the former, the monastic rule is “do what you will” (6), which some have said establishes an antimonastery subject merely to anomia, but which Agamben reads as plainly within the ambit of cenoby (koinos bios [sic], the common life) (id.). Though it is Rabelaisian (and we should likely reference Bakhtin for this?), the passage traces back to Augustine, who read the Greek Scripture to enjoin the Christian life as “love and do what you wish” (7). For Agamben, “the common life, by identifying itself with the rule without remainder, abolishes and cancels it” (7).
By contrast, de Sade’s castle Silling, in the 120 Days of Sodom, features loser aristocrats who “promulgate the reglements (‘statutes’) that must govern their new common life” (7). In this setting, “corresponding to the unlimited obedience-unto-death of the monks toward the abbot […] there is the absolute malleability of the victims to their masters, including extreme torture” (8). The “cenobitic ideal is parodically maintained” (id.).
Despite an etymology suggesting ‘to live alone’ (in monazein), the ‘monastery,’ “born as an individual and solitary flight from the world, […] was equivalent in use to cenoby” (9). Solitude is not a good thing in the period of early Christianity, as one Rule warns against “the desolation fo the desert and the terror of various monsters” (id.), whereas the gifts of the eremite are “ineffectual through inoperativity.” The common life involves unanimity and communism (10), and is a “form of life” (11). Lots about clothing becoming habitus (13 ff), wherein clothing became “indiscernible [hoion] from a way of life” (17). (This is why clothing is otherwise inexplicably so seemingly important to the liberal bourgeois—it is habitus, a form of life.) The cenobite is “a total hourly scansion of existence” (21), a “liturgy of hours.” It is a “total mobilization of existence through time” (23); it is a “significant precursor of the Protestant ascesis of labor, of which capitalism, according to Max Weber, represents the secularization” (24). Meditation as “the apparatus that permits the accomplishment of the totalitarian demands of the monastic institution” (26).
A central problem in the discussion is the “juridical nature of the monastic rules” (28); the notion that “the meticulous regulation of every detail of existence […] tends toward an undecidability of regula and vita” is alien to Roman law (29). What the rules have accomplished, however, is the “constitution of life as such as a juridical object” (29). Violation of the rules could be punished, up to excommunicatio, though “punishments had an essentially afflictive character” that is read as “essentially moral and amendatory” (31)—something of Menninger’s theory of punishments (as opposed to Bentham or Kant). Even the excommunicatio was mostly bluster, as certain rules confirm “that the delinquent monk must not be expelled,” but rather must be amended (34). Because of this, the “analogy between the judgment of the abbot and a penal process, though plausible at first glance, loses all credibility” (id.).
Some debate as to the nature of the obligation confected through application of monastic rules--ad culpam (whereunder transgression is mortal sin) or ad poenam (whereunder transgression is penalized but not mortal sin) (36). Different interlocutors have read monastic rules as both or either of these (37 e.g.). What complicates the analysis is that monastic rules become effective through the vow (Latin votum), “an institution that, like the oath [cf. volume IV], most likely belongs to that more archaic sphere in which it is impossible to distinguish between law and religion” (37) (that most fundamental hoion of all, surely). The vow works as “a form of consecration to the gods (sacratio), whose prototype is in the devotio through which the consul Decio Mure, on the eve of battle, decided to consecrate his life to the infernal gods to obtain victory” (37)—which pops us right the fuck back in volumes I and II: “the one who pronounces the vow, more than being obligated or condemned to execution, becomes, at least in the extreme case of the devotio of the consul, a homo sacer” (38). Some discussion thereafter concerning whether the vow constitutes a contract vel non. Whichever way we go on that issue, the question becomes whether the servitium of the monk is volume VI’s officium--“the monk’s life as an uninterrupted Office and liturgy” (43).
During Charlemagne’s time, the monastic rules were captured by Power insofar as the bishops supported their imposition, a “tendential juridicization of the monastic profession” (44), much as how Fletcher describes in his The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity how conversion was a top down affair through the aristocrats, who often initiated monasticism as a private initiative.
We are again in volume I with the Pauline suggestion that the Christian is “dead to the law and lives in the freedom of the spirit” (46). We must note “the irreducibility of the Christian form of life [sic] to the law” (id.).
Other things: exile/flight as “constitutive of monasticism” (50) (cf. Volume IX on intimacy and politics);
In distinction from the pagan devotio, in which the devotus consigned to the gods his body and his biological life, the Christian vow is, so to speak [hoion NB], objectively vowed and has no other content than the production of a habitus in the will, whose ultimate result will be a certain form of common life (or, from the liturgical perspective, the realization of a certain officium or a certain religio). (57)
We see that “a form of life would thus be the collection of constitutive rules that define it” (71)—cf. volume IX. Whereas there’s the normal agambenian zone of indifference between the rule and the life, they nevertheless “allow a third thing [derridean triton genus?] to appear, which the Franciscans, albeit without succeeding in defining it with precision, will call ‘use,’ as well will see” (71).
The most awesome moment of this volume is the analysis of chapter 24 of De ebdomadario lectore ad manses, which requires the “reading at table” of the rule (77). Agamben wonders
One must thus imagine that there will necessarily be a moment when the reader, having reached chapter 24, will read the passage that enjoins him to read the rule every day. What will happen at that moment? In reading the other passages of the rule, the reader executes the precept of reading, but does not actualize what the text enjoins him to do in that moment. In this case, however, the reading and putting into action of the rule coincide without remainder. (77)
We must further note that “while the unworthy priest remains in any case a priest [cf. volume VI], and the sacramental acts he carries out do not lose their validity, an unworthy monk is simply not a monk” (84).
The notion of ‘use’ is affirmed otherwise as “the inseparability of use from ownership” (110). Much thereafter about “simplex usus” (125).
Volume II: we see an “absolutization of the state exception” (115) in the application of the rules--which is fucking ominous, considering that similar language was used in volume VII regarding Auschwitz.
Cool little argument recalling how liturgical action might be read (as in volume VI) as either a poiesis or a praxis (i.e., latinate artes in effectu or artes actuosae), which makes the monastery “perhaps the first place in which life itself—and not only the ascetic techniques that form and regulate it—was presented as an art” (33).
Recommended for readers who sacrifice the life of their objects of pleasure, persons who pick up on the totalitarian demand proper to the monastic cult, and those who insist on the expropriative character of poverty....more