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I fatti sociali governano allora le idee, che si semplificano ed adottano la forma che viene imposta loro dai media e dalle bronzee regole del giornalismo mondiale. Il cristianesimo moderno, che rinuncia in parte alla fede religiosa e alla teologia classica, non ha bisogno, per laicizzarsi, di fare ricorso ad altri fondamenti che non siano il vangelo stesso. Marx lancia nel Manifesto del partito comunista il suo celebre anatema: Nel , da buon marxista ortodosso qual era ancora, Horkheimer affermava: La rivoluzione condurrebbe ad una nuova forma di terrorismo.

La tecnica assolve a due funzioni: La fame nel mondo? Alvin Toffler o Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber hanno largamente sviluppato questo genere di vedute Il sapere pittorico su Leonardo da Vinci si interessa innanzitutto alle sue tecniche di pittura. Nessun grande disegno anima la tecnicizzazione della Terra.

Questo genere di illusioni, condivise dai tecnocrati di ogni provenienza, riposa sullo stesso riduzionismo: Questioni quali la determinazione del progetto politico di una nazione tra mille scelte possibili, non si pongono neppure. Mettere olio negli ingranaggi, ma non porsi mai la domanda: Nel Sistema, si presuppone che una sola aspirazione sociale e umana sia legittima: Il leitmotiv ossessivo della classe politicante: Se i marxisti danno a questa nozione un grande valore, a noi sembra al contrario estremamente regressiva.

La nostra coscienza diventa pratica, ovvero soltanto ci importa oggi di sapere come tecnicamente sopravvivere e prosperare. Le culture che ci hanno preceduto, che pure avevano da risolvere enormi problemi materiali di sopravvivenza, paradossalmente non finivano in questo materialismo pratico. Questo montare della coscienza pratica costituisce una preoccupante regressione della nostra cultura. Si crede a torto che il destino del mondo sia nelle mani della banca mondiale, della FAO e delle multinazionali.

Essa assomiglia ad un automatismo involontario che si assume la perpetuazione della specie considerata Il Sistema si presenta come infallibile, certo. Inculcargli la coscienza pratica come se fosse il bit di un circuito stampato, significa probabilmente correre verso risultati disastrosi. Le ideologie che ci circondano non colgono i pericoli di questo universalismo. Grazie alla tecnologia noi saremo domani, in una trasposizione secolarizzata dal vecchio tema biblico, liberati dal lavoro. Alvin Toffler e la futurologia americana ci hanno abituato a questa teoria: Da qui la presente contraddizione.

Proprio qui risiede la contraddizione capitale. Non intende del resto fermarsi a questo. Le sole evoluzioni che si sono prodotte sono quantitative: Sempre lo stesso mondo, che si ingrandisce, ma non si trasforma. I satelliti per telecomunicazioni e le navette non cambiano niente in fondo nella nostra vita, e comunque meno di quanto fecero un tempo la ferrovia e la bicicletta. Dal momento in cui si trasforma in Sistema, la civilizzazione occidentale fa entrare nella pratica il suo desiderio ideologico di fine della storia. La persistenza dei figli di Marx e di Adam Smith traduce bene questa sclerosi delle ideologie: In superficie, al contrario, tutto si muove.

Jean Baudrillard nota giustamente: La cultura riciclata non prevede avvenire. I media accentuano le microvariazioni e stabilizzano al tempo stesso il Sistema. La loro concitazione cronachistica coagula paradossalmente le idee in blocchi statici che sono altrettanti segmenti di mercato. I modi di vivere ruotano, fanno giravolte, evolvono costantemente, come la forma dei parafanghi delle automobili. Per dirla altrimenti, se i modi di vivere conoscono una folle sarabanda, lo stile di vita resta identico a se stesso.

Ma fino a nuovo ordine questo non ci risveglia. Il Sistema, tramite i media, ne fa una messa in scena. Gran silenzio di significati, assenza di fatti. Per scongiurare il caso, dimenticarlo volontariamente, il Sistema ha messo a punto strategie anticrisi. Le concezioni alternative non possono essere che la messa-in-forma culturale e politica delle aspirazioni etnonazionali di ciascun popolo; devono radicarsi nelle tradizioni specifiche e non limitarsi ad un discorso strettamente sociale, ma rappresentare la visione del mondo del popolo o dei popoli cui si riferiscono.

Noi abbiamo dei ricordi, devotamente, tecnicamente, razionalmente archiviati, ma abbiamo perduto ogni memoria. La riserva indiana, il bel museo sulla vita degli esquimesi, lasciano intravedere la scomparsa di questi popoli, affogati nella Coca-Cola, abbrutiti dalla televisione. E tuttavia le stesse folle che avallano la loro morte vengono ad estasiarsi e a lacrimare sulle loro tradizioni.

Nessuna scelta, mitica o politica, viene operata. Visitare il Museo delle Arti e Tradizioni Popolari, non impedisce per niente, anzi, al contrario, coadiuva lo sradicamento culturale della vita quotidiana del cittadino medio. Il visitatore ne esce pieno di buona coscienza, convinto che le tradizioni siano conservate.

Il sapere trasmesso dalla tradizione diventa sempre meno utilizzabile nella misura in cui i problemi da risolvere appaiono inediti, per natura e per ampiezza. La nostra tradizione culturale specifica non ci dice nulla sui problemi pratici e tecnici che costituiscono il problema quotidiano del mondo attuale: Dal momento che non ci interessiamo veramente che a questo tipo di problemi, le nozioni tradizionali diventano superflue.

Cosa che spiega in parte lo straordinario spirito inventivo degli europei dai secoli passati. Si assume di fronte ad essa un atteggiamento neutro; le si fa una veglia funebre. Queste esplosioni di folklore non sono altro che pie evocazioni. Non alleviano in nulla lo sradicamento dei loro fautori. Le tradizioni in queste condizioni non fondano il Sistema, ma fanno parte delle sovrastrutture. Viene dimenticato presto e non resta nelle strutture mentali. Il progresso nasconde quindi due idee-forza: Lenin fu il grande teorizzatore di questa apparente contraddizione, che egli risolse con una teoria dialettica della praxis.

Stesso discorso per le campagne elettorali. Se la percezione che tutto rischia di crollare fosse troppo viva non si rischierebbe infatti di vedere abbandonato il modo di vivere mercantilistico? Non rischieremmo di vedere le masse ricercare le proprie gratificazioni psicologiche in una reinvenzione di forme di vita comunitarie e culturali a detrimento del consumo individuale?

Mentre i valori culturali popolari devono essere dinamici, complessi, differenzianti, la visione del mondo comune a tutto il sistema occidentale riconvoglia tutti gli ideali verso il massimo della soddisfazione delle stesse pulsioni biologiche, matematicamente calcolate e formulate.

Tre stadi sono implicitamente riconosciuti dalle vulgate ideologiche che ci circondano: Squallida concezione del tempo: Inchiodati in un ordine planetario, mentalmente allineati in una vulgata egualitaria ed individualista, i popoli non vedono trasformarsi la natura della loro vita quotidiana? La vita nel Sistema consiste semplicemente nei modi di esistenza urbani e industriali? Questa idea, ispirata alle analisi di Max Weber e ripresa da Habermas, rinvia infatti ad un elemento chiave della vita sociale contemporanea, elemento che probabilmente non esisterebbe se fossimo dei popoli culturati e dotati di una vera appartenenza etnonazionale.

Bisogna prendere coscienza di questo avvenimento di primaria importanza: Recentemente un periodico ha tentato di disegnare il profilo della donna francese media. La stampa si trova generalmente in mano a gruppi finanziari. Questi, direttamente ed indirettamente, spesso assicurano essi stessi alla detta stampa i gettiti pubblicitari che la fanno vivere. Il cerchio si chiude. La macchina gira su se stessa e per se stessa.

Una macchina-utensile svolge il lavoro una volta effettuato da un uomo. Fin qui niente di male. Come dice Heidegger 91 , il lavoratore in questa ipotesi si trova mobilitato affettivamente e psicologicamente. Ma, nei fatti, non si verifica niente di simile: Ma questo narcisismo non induce un disprezzo dei beni di questo mondo: Paradossalmente, le preoccupazioni pratiche diventano alienanti ed egemoniche nel momento in cui i bisogni primari sono soddisfatti.

I cristiani si guardano la loro messa alla televisione. Difesa di interessi corporativi che sfuggono alla comprensione del pubblico. Ma quanto a progetti politici o sociali mobilitanti, zero. Problemi amministrativi, finanziari, professionali, eccetera, sono formulati in maniera identica ovunque regna il modo di vivere occidentale.

Un membro del popolo A non formula e non risolve le sue preoccupazioni pratiche secondo lo stesso schema di un membro del popolo B. Oggi, le preoccupazioni pratiche si presentano dappertutto secondo gli stessi schemi. Sono le stesse strutture di vita che ritroviamo in tutti i paesi occidentalizzati. Sembrerebbe anzi di assistere ad un diktat delle questioni pratico-tecniche sulla vita individuale e pubblica. Le stesse preferenze, fatto notevole ed inquietante, sono state inoltre ritrovate in paesi che si sarebbe potuto credere molto diversi.

Non resta dunque che un ventaglio etologico ristretto. Noi siamo diventati dei decentrati. Spartiti tra mille settori professionali, ricreativi, sanitari, bancari, familiari , siamo ramificati in circuiti disparati. Di conseguenza, chi contestare, contro chi combattere, dove protestare? Il Sistema non integra i suoi sudditi, li disintegra. Programmi ricreativi, di trasporto, di manutenzione, di retribuzione, di bilancio, di credito, di acquisto: Si sposta a grande andatura su un circuito programmato; ma in fondo, niente si muove nella sua vita.

Si alternano le cifre nel libretto di risparmio, i mobili della casa comprata a cambiali si sostituiscono, le immagini televisive crepitano, i punti di pensione si accumulano, i prezzi e i premi mutano senza sosta: Le idee, i fatti, gli slogan circolano come banconote. Fa il furbo dappertutto.

Catégories

Suo tramite, il Sistema trasporta i propri messaggi, i propri influssi, le consegne, le mode, le manipolazioni. Il giornalista, evidentemente, non informa. Il giornalista non mente necessariamente. Dice raramente cose false. Nel Sistema occidentale al contrario, la programmazione deve essere applicabile a chiunque: Le interrelazioni e i circuiti primeggiano sulle istituzioni e sugli ambienti. Sarebbe, ancora una volta, andare nel senso del Sistema. Il sistema occidentale, appoggiato sullo spazio nippoangloamericano, intraprende oggi una gigantesca domesticazione dei popoli.

I progetti di destino e la vita comunitaria dei popoli scompaiono. I fattori di distruzione sono superati da un popolo che vuole, nel profondo della sua anima, perpetuarsi biologicamente e culturalmente. Le crisi costituiscono al contrario la materia della storia. Si diffonde oggi la voce sorniona che una crisi economica costituirebbe la peggiore delle minacce.

Buon modo di dissuadere i rivoluzionari da salotto: Il Sistema punta sulla paura, una paura da vecchiette. Una crisi delle strutture economiche del Sistema costituisce effettivamente la peggiore delle minacce. Processo classico di compensazione: Da qui il sospetto che bisogna legittimamente avanzare nei confronti dei discorsi benpensanti, delle ideologie del Bene. Baudrillard notava molto giustamente: Essa prolunga e irrigidisce la linea esatta della filosofia di Locke. Quanto a coloro che contrariamente a Scarpetta hanno il pudore di non vantare i meriti del mercantilismo newyorkese, non sono certo solo per questo avversari del Sistema.

Vale allora la pena di condannare il capitalismo, il consumismo, lo spirito borghese?

Karaoké Vertige de l'amour - Alain Bashung *

Nessuna strategia precisa, dai contorni chiaramente definiti, riunisce ancora i suoi avversari. Ma essi esistono e sono potenzialmente numerosi. Un altro desiderio li anima, per parlare come Raoul Vaneigem , desiderio che il Sistema tenta di rimuovere. Questi gruppi di appartenenza, che possono cristallizzare desideri a lungo rimossi, sono i popoli portatori di storia. In Europa come altrove, una spinta in questo senso si manifesta ancora una volta. Come un anticorpo, essa reagisce contro il Sistema. Spengler pensava che la civilizzazione faustiana invecchiando si fosse lasciata prendere in trappola dalle macchine che aveva creato Come dice Armin Mohler , la tecnica deve divenire portatrice di senso e reintegrare la cultura.

Il Sistema contiene la storia come una caldaia impedisce alla potenza espansiva e bruciante del vapore di sgorgare. Arriva il momento in cui la caldaia esplode. Una serie di fattori di ogni tipo geopolitici, economici, culturali, demografici, strategici convergono in modo significativo verso un punto di rottura comune situato prima della fine di questo secolo. Dalla fine degli anni Settanta, la situazione internazionale manifesta una tendenza verso la destabilizzazione.

Movimento di un progetto storico, movimento di una mobilitazione nazionale, movimento di una direzione politica, movimento di un ideale sociale, movimento anche di una conquista tecnica del mondo. La civilizzazione attuale, paradossalmente, anche se ha preso la forma di un Sistema, vive ancora sullo slancio passato di forze nazionali e non di ideali internazionali. Le conquiste della materia e dello spazio hanno avuto sia radici nazionali che radici culturali e scientifiche. A questo bisogna rispondere che sono invece popoli e nazioni isolati o gruppi di Stati ben precisi che con grandi imprese collettive risolvono le questioni internazionali cruciali.

Se ci si affida alle istanze di una gestione mondiale, denazionalizzata, per la soluzione dei problemi planetari militari od ecologici, per esempio , questi potranno star certi di non essere risolti.

AVANT-PROPOS

Guillaume Faye Traduzione di Stefano Vaj. Konrad Lorenz, Evoluzione e modificazione del comportamento, Boringhieri, Torino Vedi i suoi Principi di economia politica. La science et la technique comme ideologie, Gallimard, Parigi Christopher Lash, Culture of Narcissism. Pierre Dommergues et al. Werner Sombart, Il borghese, op. Julho 14, Categorias: In questi mesi a questa contestazione del libero-scambio, si sono aggiunte altre due voci, contribuendovi con il peso della reputazione di cui godono e della competenza che viene loro riconosciuta: Infine, una variabile indipendente sfugge completamente alle analisi su cui sono fondate le strategie economiche attuali: Tutti i paesi che praticano una politica di questo tipo vedono la loro situazio ne aggravarsi.

Rimpiangono oggi questo periodo, ben diverso dalla recessione attuale. Queste importano IBM e prendono a prestito eurodollari. Queste idee, terza via tra il paleoliberalismo di Margaret Thatcher [alias] o di Ronald Reagan [alias] e il paleomarxismo dello Stato-dinosauro dei socialisti francesi, si fondano su di una nozione di buon senso: Questa deculturazione trova la sua legittimazione nel mito del progresso.

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Per dare scacco alla predominanza delle superpotenze e delle multinazionali che violano le loro frontiere, le nazioni devono coalizzarsi in blocchi apparentati che siano dei vasti sottoinsiemi strutturati, commercialmente ed in dustrialmente autocentrati e regolati da un ordine di tipo politico.

Perroux si richiama ad esempio al progetto della costituzione di grandi insiemi imperiali che vedrebbero coincidere spazio politico, spazio economico e spazio finanziario, raggruppanti nazioni culturalmente, etnicamente ed economicamente vicine. Questa dinamizzazione significa per lui il sostegno delle aspirazioni nazionali e non del benessere individualista. Presto o tardi, essi si ribelleranno al sistema occidentale.

Prendiamo la testa di questa rivolta. Abbiamo lo stesso nemico. Altre opere disponibili sono elencate qui. Vediamone le linee generali. Il suo volto si delinea fin da oggi. Un misto del di Orwell e di un nuovo medioevo…. Ma queste denunce erano inconseguenti e contraddittorie. I contestatori le intimavano, in qualche modo, di mantenere le sue promesse, di realizzare i suoi obbiettivi. Quali sono le sue principali caratteristiche? Le associazioni di consumatori, vere e proprie corporations che si aggiungeranno alle altre, da quelle dei genitori ai sindacati di disoccupati, saranno abilitate a concludere convenzioni con i distributori e si costituiranno in apparati che interverranno nella politica produttiva e nella vita pubblica.

I temi del diritto al consumo si amplificheranno, forse persino nello stesso campo giuridico, in maniera considerevole. Actuel ha lanciato una campagna molto significativa del nuovo costume: Vuoto intellettuale, ma anche ricaduta nella piattezza borghese. Il piacere, la dolcezza del vivere diventano ossessioni, fantasmi. Si limita a viverli. Rientrato a casa alle diciassette e trenta in punto in una piccola vettura diesel, il quadro medio della NSC si guarda una videocassetta porno, poi gioca ad una guerra stellare con i suoi due figli sul PC familiare — per quanto sostenga Amnesty International.

Pletora di danaro, ma al tempo stesso mancanza di danaro: Ma tutti si tollerano. Nessuno si sente implicato dai comportamenti altrui. Piuttosto che cercare di acquistare una seconda residenza, arredate il vostro appartamento. Khomeini e Gheddafi devono certo farsene delle belle risate. Ma questa ossessione non fa che tradurre il concludersi della vecchia aspirazione delle ideologie occidentali. Perderanno dunque il potere a meno di riuscire a prolungare il sogno suscitato.

Coloro che ci dirigono, di destra o di sinistra, dovranno sottomettercisi … indipendentemente dai poteri politici. Il sistema che talvolta si pretende di combattere, ne esce rinvigorito. Werner Sombart aveva ragione: In compenso, il microcommercio, le imprese minuscole, soprattutto del terziario, fioriscono liberamente. Burocratismo socialista e liberalcapitalismo celebrano le loro nozze sotto il vessillo del mondialismo…. I cassetti sono felici.: Nuove protesi, nuova carta, i microprocessori governano la NSC, dai videogames alle prenotazioni dei treni ed entrano, dalla gestione delle imprese, nella vita quotidiana.

Il pianeta diventa veramente il villaggio globale di cui parlava Marshall Mac Luhan. Fine dei grandi standards. Sono i costumi e non le appartenenze che costituiscono il cemento dei nuovi corpi intermedi. Si creano reti televisive per crearne, anche se non si ha niente da dire.


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Essa corrisponde perfettamente al nuovo spirito dei costumi: La civilizzazione industriale avanzata lavora su elementi funzionali. Tutti gli uomini sono simili, come dei cloni: Se lo desiderate, diventate Brettoni e fans del celtismo, anche se siete giamaicani. Quali possono essere le conseguenze sociali e culturali di questa polverizzazione degli stili e dei valori? Il ripiego verso stili di vita marginali e preoccupazioni intimiste, tende a polverizzare i valori sociali.

Microculture appaiono e scompaiono, originali certo, ma effimere, come sullo spettro turbinante di un caleidoscopio. Le mode marginali si succedono senza tregua. Le classi e le categorie socio-professionali, pure. Ma questa omogeneizzazione ambientale e quantitativa necessita per realizzarsi appieno del suo apparente contrario: Non ci troviamo dunque soltanto in presenza di un modello culturale occidentale di massa omogeneo, ma di due livelli: Les Anglais quitteront Lhassa le 23 septembre. La bataille sera longue: Les Herero ne sont plus des sujets allemands… Le peuple des Herero doit quitter le pays.

Telles sont mes paroles au peuple Herero. Ils remettront le couvert, et pour 50 personnes le 5 novembre ! Hommes de lettres, philosophes: Musiciens, grands compositeurs, mais aussi des jazzmen de renom: Le sculpteur Bartholdi, Cecil B. Savants, inventeurs et industriels: Premier match international de foot. La montre bracelet fait son apparition. Fleming invente la diode: Ils avaient mis leur costume du dimanche, tous, les jeunes et les vieux. La neige a rougi du sang des ouvriers….

Ils construisent, en ce moment, une cave de vinification. Il y eut des insurrections de marins: Le soviet de Moscou prit le relais. Il y eut encore quelques agitations sporadiques en Le port de Marseille et le pont transbordeur. Charles Camoin [] Marseille, le Pont transbordeur. Trotski en fera une tribune:. Verdict le 2 novembre: Albert Einstein a 26 ans: La Douma a le pouvoir de proposer des lois, mais le tzar garde un droit de veto, convoque et dissout selon son bon vouloir et peut la contourner en gouvernant par oukases.

Il est mort dans son sommeil, apparemment sans souffrance. Le repos hebdomadaire devient obligatoire. Vous verrez, vous finirez par y ressembler. Konstantin Edouardovitch Tsiolkovski, savant russe []. Mal lui en prend de vouloir diversifier ses exportations vers la Bulgarie et la France: Ces vers accompagnaient le titre Olympia au Salon de Maria traduira leurs livres. La maternelle des enfants, et aussi Ted X]. Avetz pas un paux de pan? Cette terre ne sait pas faire pousser autre chose que de la vigne. Marinette demande parfois de tes nouvelles. Quand pourrais-je te revoir? Ferme de La Tourelle, dans le Pas de Calais: Aquest argent, te o disi, te lo tornarai.

Il est temps de passer aux actes. Unissons-nous tous sans distinction de parti, sans distinction de classe. Tu te rends compte! Cent mille hommes et femmes dans les rues de Narbonne. Les Barques noires de monde. Chaque meeting voit gonfler nos rangs. Tu ne peux pas imaginer une ville envahie par nos meetings… Maintenant nos villages le dimanche sont aussi vides que nos portefeuilles.

Tout cela dans le calme. Le maire de Narbonne.

Nous ne sommes pas des parias, il faut que cela finisse. Plus que jamais, restons unis sans distinction de parti et sans distinction de classe. Le Midi si florissant, le Midi si fertile se meurt. Vive le vin naturel! Enfin on nous entend. Il y a eu cinq morts. Soldats, votre conscience est nette: Mais on dirait seulement. Les maires reprennent leur fonction. Mourez si vous ne pouvez faire autrement, mais ne tuez jamais. Puis le ressort et le fait analyser: Pas de sentiment non plus: Il conviendrait que nous ne fussions, nous, les colonisateurs, ni assassins ni voleurs. Mais cela est une utopie.

Les fumeries abondent, toutes accueillantes. Alors je pus la voir distinctement. Je marchais lentement vers lui en lui parlant affectueusement. Viens, mon bon chien! Son gros corps haletait et ahanait. Il y a place pour deux , disait-il en substance. Ce fut en — , un des grands scandales du jour. Quelle queue, quelle queue! Je suis partisan du maintien de la peine de mort.

F ederal B oard of I nvestigation. Une partie de la voie se trouvait au -dessous du niveau de la mer. Churchill fait attendre tout le monde car il discute politique avec Lloyd George dans la sacristie! Bernard Erginger, alias Satprem Le ministre russe commet deux erreurs de jugement majeures: Je ne mourrai pas avant lui.

Nous ne savons rien. La vie gronde, la vie monte. Personnellement je me sens aussi proche des uns que des autres. Le gouvernement du peuple, par le peuple et pour le peuple.

Le roman de Cassandra

Mais globalement, le train a mauvaise presse:. Aura-t-il du retard en arrivant en gare de Saint Pierre? Tout cela semble si simple. Hutati, 34 ans, Eginguah, 26 ans, Seeglof, 20 ans, et Ouqueah, 24 ans: Encore quelques heures de sommeil. Un maigre sommeil, et en route une fois encore. Un voile dense, sans vie, recouvrait le ciel.

Knud Rasmussen Revue Politiken, le 20 octobre , article du 25 septembre Herbert, en seize mois sur la glace, en , atteindra une seule fois la performance de Paris ne sera pas rapide pour envoyer des secours, lesquels seront surtout locaux, via la Croix Rouge et la presse, qui lancera plusieurs souscriptions: Jules Verne, quand tu nous tiens!

Le record est atteint en Le 20 janvier, la navigation est interdite sur la Seine. Les ascenseurs se bloquent. Le fleuve ne se calme pas pour autant. Le bilan est terrible: La crue centennale en chiffres: Les fonctionnaires avaient obtenu une retraite modeste depuis On inaugure la ligne de chemin de fer transandin, Buenos Aires — Valparaiso.

Marc Sangnier se soumet. On croit le jeune pilote atteint seulement de multiples fractures, mais les dommages sont plus graves, car il meurt quatre jours plus tard. Elle effectuera vols sans jamais casser de bois. Les cigarettes Hongroises, en vente depuis , deviennent Gauloises: James Oliver Curwood Kazan. Traduction de Bernard Blanc. Il effectuera de nombreuses explorations dans le grand nord: Un des meilleurs connaisseurs des Eskimos, qui le nommeront Kunupaluk. Au lieu de cela, ils sont gais, ils rient. Ils rient tout le temps, ils ne cessent de rire.

Au lieu de rire, ils ruminent. La joie, la vie emplissent les alentours du poste. En un instant, ils ont disparu. Supprimez la lutte, et vous supprimez la vie. Le fascisme de Mussolini aura donc bien des racines. On traverse le Pacifique, on double le Horn. Le charpentier taille ses chevilles comme un instituteur taille ses crayons. Il les enfonce au marteau dans chaque trou.

CHAPITRE 1

Il ne sait plus si le soleil colore les huniers, si la nuit efface les formes. Et pour le capitaine, la perdition commence quand on a les dents du bas qui saignent. Elle comptait 97 jours de mer. G reenwich M eans T imes. Le sommet est-il loin? Enver Pacha, Mustafa Kemal. Patrick Wielemans pousse la porte du salon Einstein. Elle ne permet pas de trancher avec certitude entre les deux salons: Marie Curie en aura deux. To this extent, the violence Blanchot was invoking was not directed towards any seizure of power as such; its goal was more symbolic than real, and consisted more in the need to provide the nation with a vivid token or figure of the fundamental illegitimacy of the elected democratic government and the regime it represented.

But what kind of refashioning did Blanchot have in mind? The conclusion is as follows: In reality what counts is not being above parties, but against them. It is not to take up the vulgar slogan: It is evident in these circumstances that the true form of dissidence is that which abandons one position without ceasing to observe the same hostility towards the opposite position or rather which abandons it in order to accentuate this hostility. A true communist dissident is the one who leaves communism, not in order to move closer to capitalist beliefs, but to define the true conditions of struggle against capitalism.

In the same way, the true nationalist dissident is the one who neglects the traditional formulas of nationalism, not in order to move closer to internationalism but to combat internationalism in all its forms, including the economy and the nation itself. These two specimens of dissidence seem to us to be equally useful. But they also seem qually rare. What it proposes, with some irony, is not fascism, therefore, but, to the extent that they rely on a principle of political representation, the destruction of all political parties in general.

It is something more complex, that involves a radicalisation of the differences between left and right as well as a fundamental redefinition of all inherited forms of nationalism and communism. The aim is not to fuse right with left, but rather to call into question the whole principle of political representation that would make such fusion possible. Any challenge on this scale to the stability of inherited political discourse, as Blanchot acknowledges, is necessarily founded on an act of radical, violent refusal.

But violence, according to Blanchot, is inherent in politics; indeed, as I have argued, the two are for Blanchot like the two sides of the same coin. Admittedly, there are many different 41 An intellectual itinerary kinds of violence. But what is it, one may ask, about the therapeutically destructive violence of the kind recommended by Blanchot that distinguishes it from the violence being done to the nation by parliamentary democracy or from the violence of war itself?

For as Jacques Derrida has convincingly argued, any act of foundational or refoundational violence is necessarily always already iterative. What at one stage may be construed as a pure interruption of politics necessarily runs the risk of turning out to have been only an impure episode in politics.

So, however much the article on terrorism, for instance, may be read as a defence of the promise of the future against the oppressive, dictatorial violence of a sham parliamentary consensus, it is always possible — and necessary — for the piece to be read or misread as endorsing a mode of violence that, far from interrupting a violent politics, turns out to have already been contaminated by that which it sought to oppose.

At the very point he was evidently seeking to break out of the cycle of the repressive politics of representation, there was every danger that Blanchot might end up, in his extremist journalism, appearing merely to propose a mirror image of that politics. There is — and was — always the risk that the endeavour to put a violent end to a politics of violence might itself be metamorphosed into just another sequence in the violence of that politics. The risks involved, however, were not contingent ones; for, as Blanchot recognised, there could be no politics at all without the necessary recourse to force or violence.

The acts of the day 2 [Drieu La Rochelle] renewed his previous offer to me [i. I refused absolutely, saying: I could not ask writers to collaborate on a journal for which I myself would not wish to write. At any event, was a watershed for other reasons; for late in September that year Chamberlain and Daladier, though they pretended differently to their electorates, set the final seal on the policy of appeasement of Hitler and, as Blanchot and others had predicted, launched Europe on the inevitable path to war.

Admittedly, this view of Munich was not universally shared at the time; the agreement which forced Czechoslovakia to cede to Hitler the German-speaking territories along its western border with Germany was hailed by many on the French right as a resounding success. Maulnier, in Combat, for instance, though still deeply critical of the parliamentary system as such, applauded the government for averting the immediate threat of war. Though the paper was strongly in favour of closer Franco—British collaboration, and though it took the view that the issue of the Sudeten Germans could be resolved peacefully, it also recognised that Hitler remained a threat, and concluded that the most urgent priority was for the Western democracies to arm in expectation of war.

They chose shame, and they will get war, too. The temptation arises, Blanchot puts it, when literature and history appear to coincide in one absolute, seemingly apocalyptic interval, when the suspended event of writing finds itself mirrored and justified in the pure advent of revolutionary Terror.

At such a moment, writes Blanchot, freedom and death are as one, the possibility of death becomes inseparable from the possibility of life, and absolute negation speaks with the same authority as absolute affirmation. Between Blanchot the revolutionary journalist during the s and Blanchot the literary critic of the post-war years, the parallels, as Blanchot himself seems to imply, are compelling; and it may seem as though, obliquely and in retrospect, Blanchot is seeking to legitimise some of his pre-war political decisions by associating with them a belief in the radical, contestatory force of literature itself.

But there is here a crucial difference. Though writing may find its justification in revolutionary violence, its goal is in fact not justification, but justice; and though it may find itself mirrored in the spectacle of the Terror, its aim is not self-reflection, but disappearance. Literature is irreducible to the sovereignty that comes from absolute power; the only injunction to which it falls subject is that of its own effacement, absence, and radical exteriority to power and possibility.

If literature, for Blanchot, belongs to destruction, it is because its role is not to assert authority, but to contest all authority, including its own. Unlike the dangerously ambiguous texts of and , always liable to find themselves re-inscribed within a discourse reliant on the political selfpresence of the nation, literature here retains a reserve and distance that renders it irreducible to the political simplification that threatens and ultimately disqualifies those 47 An intellectual itinerary early political texts.

For if it is true that literature, like death, seizes itself paroxystically within the immediacy of a paramount moment of absolute freedom, as the rhetoric of terror would suggest, it is also the case that literature, like death, is an encounter with the limitless impossibility of that moment, and with the lack of power that leaves writing forever suspended as an absent event that can never properly come to be, since the only domain it occupies is the domain of worklessness, impotence, and disaster.

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Here as there, a principle of representation or mediation is being challenged in the name of the effervescent immediacy of a terrible and sublime moment. But where the pre-war political writings fall victim to the contagious effects of an unmediated nationalism that, in its very appeal to the future self-presence of the nation, is in fact, though it may not itself be aware of this, just another discourse of political representation, literature turns aside from the temptation of such a moment to resist the lure of immediacy. Between and , much that defies words had somehow taken place: During that period, Blanchot seems to have spent the bulk of his time writing: This discrepancy between public script and private scribbling may 48 An intellectual itinerary appear immense.

But it is also somewhat deceptive. For what Blanchot arguably came to understand in the course of this protracted exposure to writing, from the late s onwards, was not only the extent to which the political discourse to which he, like many other thinkers and writers of the non-conformist right, had appealed in his pre-war revolutionary texts had been covertly, indeed primarily, an aesthetic one; but also, more importantly, that this grounding of the political in aesthetics had relied on an ultimately untenable conception of the work of art as a form of deferred self-presence.

In both the aesthetic and the more properly political sphere, the message then was largely the same; and there is an evident logic in the fact that Blanchot, in his literary critical essays at the time, may be found affirming in the work of art the voluntaristic purity of a future act of politico-aesthetic refoundation. As Blanchot was quickly to discover in writing his own early novels, to rely on a view of literature that privileges foundation over the responsiveness to alterity and asserts the identity of a subject over the contestation that comes from the Other is to cling to an impoverished, and in the end untenable conception of art.

The years between and were plainly 49 An intellectual itinerary eventful ones. But perhaps the most decisive factor of all that makes the Blanchot of no longer the Blanchot of is simply that, in the interval, the writer had begun at last to take seriously his own experience as a novelist, and to abandon the lingering commitment to the project of re founding, in literature, the self-presence of the French nation. There seems little doubt that the writer was then brought to reflect upon the lessons to be learned from his own political past.

As always, Blanchot did so obliquely, in an essay first published in August that year, by considering the fate of two other thinkers whose writings raise complex political questions of their own: But how, asks Blanchot, was such falsification possible? But while this shows that statements cannot be taken in isolation and are decisively bound to their context, it also confirms that contexts can and do change, and that texts whose meaning becomes contaminated in that process have perhaps some responsibility to bear for the possibility of such changes.

The responsibility for thought, Blanchot concludes, is infinite; as in the case of Nietzsche, it is from the very outset always at least twofold, since the responsibility of thought is responsibility not only to the contestatory violence of thought but also for the incalculable implications of that violence. Even so, there remains the question of how and why Heidegger had been willing to put his own philosophical writing to work in the service of a racist, totalitarian political system.

Indeed, he concludes by observing how, in his public endorsement of Hitler shortly before the fateful plebiscite of November , which took Germany out of the League of Nations and began the long road to war, Heidegger was guilty of committing his own philosophical language — the language of Sein und Zeit — to the cause of the Nazi state and of thus compromising his own writing by the politics it was used to defend. Are there parallels to be drawn between Heidegger and Blanchot? Should one apply to Blanchot the strictures whose principle he clearly and convincingly articulates with regard to Heidegger?

The question is without doubt a legitimate one. But to confuse Blanchot with Heidegger is also to neglect a number of essential, absolutely irreducible differences: Blanchot never endorsed Hitler politically, never held high office in a state institution with the explicit support of the Nazi Party, never threw the weight of his philosophy behind the inner truth of the Nazi movement, and consistently refused the temptation of silence when it came to responding to the question of the Holocaust. More than fifty years after publication, their resistance to interpretation remains undiminished.

Indeed, contrary to repute, these early novels of Blanchot are neither full of esoteric allusions nor obsessed with silence; they are, rather, outrageously garrulous and self-explanatory, and given to endless digressions designed to elucidate the import and purpose of the stories they tell. These are texts that, unlike others, make little attempt to conceal the violence with which they interrupt what the reader is enjoined to consider, at least implicitly, as a previously stable state of affairs.

In the first of these, the tale begins with the sudden arrival of a foreigner within an unnamed city, without it ever being explained from where he has come or why, and what purpose his visit might have; yet this does not prevent the narrative from recounting his brief life in the city, oppressed by the terrible — and terribly ambiguous — spectacle of a sham life of happiness, until he is eventually punished for attempting to escape from the city and dies as a consequence, only then to enjoy the hollow privilege of a grand funeral, after which everything returns to the dubious normality of domestic routine.

Part philosophical inquiry, part Bildungsroman, part inner experience, part self-reflexive mise-en-abyme, part Pentecostal fable, part apocalyptic rhapsody, part ironic romance, part stylistic tour de force, this is a work that displays few, if any, of the standard features of conventional novels of the time. In a decision that is lightly taken but heavy with consequences, Thomas enters this second building.

But in order to do so, and however strenuously they endeavour to carry out this project, they are necessarily faced with a fundamental paradox. Beginnings and endings can only be thought in their own absence. Any act of foundation, be it an act of aesthetic framing, of ontological grounding, or ethical injunction, has to confront the necessary circumstance of its own prior absence; indeed, for an act of foundation to be possible at all, it must first be preceded by an absence of foundation.

Such prior absence is thereby 55 The im possibility of literature a necessary condition of any possibility of foundation; however, to the extent that it insists, as it necessarily must, on the belatedness and fragility of any such moment of foundation, any such condition of possibility is also a condition of impossibility. The laying of foundations, as it were, is an activity that may take place only within a bottomless abyss; and it is the bottomless abyss that constitutes the only reliable foundation, albeit a foundation that is always already an absence of foundation.

Such an absence of foundation is not just an ironic flourish: The price of the possibility of foundation, one may say, is the impossibility of that foundation. Without exception, all these moments of narrative inception or closure prove in fact to be remarkably indeterminate; and, throughout, the selfcertainty of the initial founding moment is tempered — if not indeed radically challenged — by the awareness that the world founded in this way fails to embody itself as an inaugural, fully transparent presence.

The violence of the origin is never effaced; to the dismay, puzzlement, frustration, and ultimate fascination of the reader, the beginning of the text is displayed as pure interruption, as a hiatus in whatever is held to precede the beginning. Such paradoxes are also much in evidence in Aminadab. There, at the very moment Thomas is busy receiving from Dom, his erstwhile and future companion, the news that it is time for them to leave, he hesitates, prolonging once again the questions that have never ceased to be asked in pages gone by, yet never answered; even at this late stage, as Thomas hovers between life and death, silence and speech, the threat of darkness and the yearning for light, he seems still to be hoping for a response to the question that will allow him to throw some illumination upon all that has occurred AB, Unabashed by the information of indeterminable purport and unverifiable accuracy given by the young woman Lucie, to the effect that he was not the one to whom the inaugural sign was intended in the first place AB, , and told that at any event, as far as the boarding house was concerned, according to Dom AB, , he would have been better advised going down to the basement rather than up to the floors, Thomas brings the novel to an end with an unanswered, still almost preliminary question, which he addresses to Lucie, unless it is to the light itself assuming the two to be different: The failure to reach conclusion, in both texts, is a token of the extent to which both novels, as they seek to convert the violence of beginning or ending into the self-sufficient law of their own necessity, cannot escape the realisation of their own irredeemable excess; they remain traversed to the very end by the enigma of everything that, by necessity, cannot in fact be spoken and which yet seemingly constitutes the only reason for their existence.

Their possibility as autonomous, self-bound artefacts is traversed by the impossibility of such self-legislation; and what is at one moment a condition of possibility is at another a condition of impossibility. Beginnings are a function of the absence of beginnings, and endings an interval imposed on the endlessness of language; each and every point that claims self-presence is shown here to be already inhabited by the other from which it derives, on which it depends, and which therefore has the potential to disable its claim to be what it is.

But already the euphoria of his telepathic intimacy with the far-off swimmer becomes mingled with discomfort and distress; and it is as though boundless freedom has suddenly turned into something more nearly resembling opaque compulsion, in much the same way that, in the pages that follow, it is by closing his eyes that Thomas sees more deeply into the darkness, and while refusing to walk that he finds himself imperiously being propelled along.

The night soon appeared murkier and more terrible to him than any other night, as though it had really come forth from a wound in thought that could no longer be thought, thought treated ironically as an object by something other than thought. It was night itself. Images that made up its darkness flooded over him, and his body, changed into a demonic mind, sought to picture them to itself.

He could see nothing, 58 The im possibility of literature and, far from being overwhelmed by this, he made this absence of vision the culminating point of his gaze. Useless for seeing, his eye took on extraordinary proportions, grew beyond measure, and, stretching to the horizon, let the night penetrate to its centre in order to create for itself an iris. So it was, by virtue of this emptiness, that his gaze and the object of his gaze mingled together.

Not only did the eye which could see nothing apprehend something, it apprehended the cause of its vision. It saw as an object that which prevented it from seeing. As such, its status is uncontrollably paradoxical. This night is not a night, therefore, nor does it occur before night; it is the night thinkable only as that which is external to the concept of night, and, to that extent, may be described only as a radical impossibility of night.

And yet because this is the night which does precede the night, it is necessarily also that which enables the night — both word and thing — to appear as such; and to that degree it must logically already hold within itself the possibility of the appearance of night. This explains the peculiar experience undergone by Thomas as he peers into the depths of night. For as he gazes on, in the darkness, with his unseeing eye, at his own inability to see, all he can make out, in the lack of any visible object, are the circumstances that might make vision possible.

However, those circumstances do not themselves constitute an object of vision; what they do is rather to present Thomas with the spectacle of an absence of vision, with the result that Thomas, blinded by this absence of sight, is faced, so to speak, with the vision of the circumstances that prevent him from seeing anything at all. So as Thomas stares on, unseeing, into the night, what he finds himself looking at is not just the absence of a particular visible object, nor simply the absence of visibility as such, but, more radically, the presence of that darkest of other nights as 59 The im possibility of literature Blanchot terms it elsewhere which is the only truly nocturnal night of all, the night that is impenetrable to all visibility and synonymous with an originary impossibility of vision which is nothing other than the prior condition of visibility as such.

Blanchot dramatises this here with regard to vision; elsewhere he does so in relation to language. The logic is much the same. For the night before night that confronts Thomas in the darkness is both irreducible to the word night and yet its necessary condition of possibility. According to this Orphic logic, by which possibility is only ever a function of prior impossibility, and an object only ever grasped at the very moment of its ineradicable loss, the unnamable night before night constitutes the only im proper object or absence of object that literature may claim as its very own, even though for it to do so is for literature to be reminded all the while that what counts as its own is also that which is irrepressibly alien to it.

Witness, for instance, the eerie spectacle of Thomas, this very first of human beings TO1, , who, in the depths of night, finds himself grappling, in dreadful solitude, with something absolutely inaccessible, absolutely foreign to all being, absolutely inconceivable, something which he could say did not exist, yet which filled him with terror and which he could sense lurking within the space of his own solitude.

In this respect, the il y a is a strangely ambiguous moment of ontological foundation; on the one hand, since the il y a is logically prior to all propositions, including negative ones, and cannot itself be negated, it necessarily serves as a moment of foundation for being; but, on the other hand, as Levinas insists, if the il y 62 The im possibility of literature a necessarily precedes the constitution of any world whatever, be it a fictional or nonfictional one, it follows that the il y a poses an implicit, ineliminable challenge to the autonomy and stability of that world.

Considered from the point of view of the il y a, the world derives its possibility from prior impossibility. So if the il y a is a founding moment, what it founds is in fact an absence of world; what it inscribes is a series of always anterior repetitive traces whose origin is always lost. Accordingly, when the il y a does reveal itself, Levinas argues, it does so in the form of eternal wakefulness; and what it dramatises is not self-presence nor originary giving, but the necessary intrication of being and otherness and the irreducible dependence of all giving on what is a prior and thus infinitely irredeemable debt.

Presence is always already marked by its own alteration and by the inherent possibility of nonpresence. Ineluctable alterity threatens from the outset; and being becomes inseparable here from its own boundless absence and impossibility of foundation. By a dizzying and outrageous paradox, being comes to function like an instantiation of its own groundless absence. Literature, here, oscillates uncontrollably between that which is and that which refuses to be; what writing founds as possibility at one moment, it dismantles as impossibility at another.

But from the outset, this mimetic impetus in the novel is sharply and ironically curtailed. This becomes clear very soon after the beginning of the story, when Thomas, having boldly entered the boarding house, is invited to select a room for himself. Shortly after, in typically uncanny fashion, Thomas finds himself in a place containing a strange painting contraption, comprising, among other things, a complicated assemblage of pullies and ropes, several stools, an easel, a mirror, a spotlight, a sundial, and a collection of palettes dripping paint on to the floor.

Thomas sits down on one of the stools, and, looking at the unfinished painting, realises that much of the detail of the room he is in has already been faithfully copied on to the canvas, including the very stool on which he is sitting. In the course of this description, the narrator remarks: The only perfect imitation of an object would be in fact that object itself.

Such redoubling would produce, however, not resemblance, but repetition. Before any object may be perceived as an exact, mimetic copy of another, a margin of alterity must first have differentiated object from copy in order that the relation of resemblance between the two may be instituted at all. But in so far as resemblance is founded in differentiation, mimesis in the true sense proves to be an impossibility. Mimesis, it transpires, only functions at all in so far as the imitation is an imperfect one. Indeed, it may be said that it is only because of the impossibility of mimetic identity in the true sense that mimesis is possible at all.

But, by that token, the relationship between object and copy falls subject to a logic that necessarily escapes the concept of mimesis, with the consequence that any theory of 64 The im possibility of literature mimesis is left with the insurmountable problem of accounting for the existence of the mimetic process itself, since that process, though it may produce objects that are judged to be mimetically accurate, is not itself an imitation.

An ineliminable residue remains, which necessarily exceeds mimesis; like the question of the inaugural light that illuminates — without clarifying — the world depicted in Aminadab itself, something radically other than the fictional world itself continually survives, intelligible only as an obscure enigma defying translation into anything other than itself. Throughout Aminadab, the reader is faced with ineluctable, aporetical impasses of this sort. The result, as far as the text is concerned, is radical uninterpretability.

Paradoxically, the sheer number of these often contradictory internal commentaries makes interpretation not easier, but harder. Indeed, one of the ways in which the novel resists interpretation is by already incorporating within its textual fabric numerous other, already available mythological, philosophical, religious, literary, or rhetorical discourses. Yet these internal discourses, though they may exhaust the text, are themselves never exhausted by it, if only because, to a large degree, they are what constitute the text as such. The bizarre result is a writing in which everything already seems to possess somewhere in the novel its own implicit or explicit interpretation, except for the process of commentary itself, which remains uninterpreted and, one might add, boundlessly uninterpretable, with the result that what seems lucid at one stage becomes quite opaque at another.

The inhabitants of this boarding house, Thomas reflects at one point, in free indirect speech, are many of them liars and rogues AB, What could be more lucid? But it would be wrong to conclude from this kind of hermeneutic paralysis that all in the novel is equally mendacious or arbitrary. Reading, writing, speaking are weighty obligations, from which it is impossible to withdraw, that remain incumbent on all of us, whether we wish it or not. Like Thomas during most of the early part of the novel, to go anywhere at all is always to be accompanied by the irksome, inevitable presence of that other who, in the form of the character Dom — whose name evokes the Lord to whom Thomas is forced continually to play the part of reluctant bondsman — is literally chained to him as his very own special, alien companion.

But within or beneath the text, disturbing its foundations, just as the basement — according to Dom — runs under the house, offering a possible space of freedom far from the light of day, there is always the lure of something else, an outside, which seems to offer hope of escape. To suggest this finally is perhaps the purpose of the title of Aminadab.

The name, unexplained until some fourteen pages before the end, arrives suddenly, referring only to some perhaps legendary gatekeeper whose role it is to guard the great gate leading below the house to the basement. But the existence of such a figure, the reader is told, is probably a myth, and the great gate only a wooden fence; in any case, if Thomas were to leave by the basement, all he might find would be the impossibility of dying and the cruel torment of rebeginning.

Better, says Dom, to stay inside the house. But to do so would of course be not to find rest, but to remain, like Aminadab the mythical gatekeeper, hovering between house and basement, inside and out, fiction and truth, legend and reality, always embarked, like at least one of his earlier, Biblical namesakes, on the endless journey out of Egypt, together with the other children of Israel, towards an ever distant promised land.

This novel, like history, fails to conclude, and the light the novel throws on such events remains obstinately opaque. But if Aminadab is an allegory, it is not because — as Sartre contends — the novel is simply a coded, fantastical representation of the metaphysical dereliction of modern man. If Aminadab is readable at all as a seconddegree, allegorical narrative, one that incorporates within itself, so to speak, the perpetual possibility of another, figurative layer of interpretation or legibility, it is because, by its very resistance to interpretation, the novel implicitly appeals at every turning to the possibility of there being another text, another interpretation, another commentary able to frame the text and somehow efface its startling indeterminacies.

If it is an allegory, Aminadab is at best an ironic or impossible one, and the phantom, parallel, other reading that the novel may be thought to propose is in fact nothing other than the novel itself perpetually repeated and continually reread, with the result that the relationship between the text and its own reading is a relationship of radical strangeness, both infinite proximity and infinite distance.

Reading here is possession of the reader by the text, not interiorisation of the text by the reader. As Thomas sits at his desk, reading, he is devoured by the text before him as though by a praying mantis; and in this singular sexual aggression, it is not just a case of Thomas reading the text, but rather of the text reading him. The Thomas of Aminadab, as his decisions too become 67 The im possibility of literature the object of conjecture and interpretation by the other inhabitants of the boarding house, undergoes a similar mutation; and the effect, in both fictions, is not just to portray Thomas as an obstinate reader, but to transform the reader into a double of Thomas, unable to withdraw from the strangely circular, empty obligation of always being a reader of words continually read by words.

Reading here is a process of endless submission to language. Indeed, it transpires that even to interrupt reading is still to be caught in the act of reading words as well as being read by them. The only option that remains is to repeat, recite, reinvent words with a view not to reasserting the apparent presence of words to themselves, but by responding to their fundamental absence from themselves. All the new version of the novel does is to add further to the burden of reading.

For literature founds itself only upon the abyss; and whatever literature founds, therefore, including literature itself, is necessarily without foundation. On one of its sides, poetry makes sense, but on another it unmakes it. It distances speech, and if it restores it to us, it is from afar.

It binds dangerously the possibility of speaking to an impossibility that becomes, as it were, its very condition. The truth is rather the reverse. For Blanchot, only literature — not politics — was in a position to tell the truth about the political as such, while politics, in its dealings with literature, was destined always to encounter the limits of its power and authority. In that role, Blanchot was clearly intent on pursuing the literary critical project he had begun before the war.

First, in the abeyance of all normal public and political life, Blanchot was clearly committed to the notion that, in so far as it represented a veiled sign of national and nationalist resistance, cultural activity under the Occupation should carry on in spite of all; and it was in these terms that he justified in his own column, albeit discreetly, 70 The im possibility of literature his own preoccupation with contemporary cultural matters.

More generally, too, Blanchot in his articles was clearly aiming to articulate in detail, and for the first time, a coherent aesthetic discourse of his own, one that combined a vigorous opposition to literary realism with a defence of what Blanchot thematises initially as the foundational autonomy and purity of the literary work.

All true literature, he argues, aspires to the status of myth and founds itself in the effort to overcome chance; it eschews all facile concessions to the expectations of the audience, including the demand for conventional realism or verisimilitude; it offers a radical challenge to the degradation, mediocrity, and inauthenticity of everyday life, taking instead as its essential theme the communal destiny of a national people in particular and of humanity in general. Because of its belief in the essential purity of thought and its profound mistrust, even hatred of words, Paulhan described this attitude as a form of Terror; and in Les Fleurs de Tarbes, by demonstrating its internal contradictions, what he sought to do was to dispel the effects of Terror and rehabilitate what he referred to as Rhetoric, that now discredited, classical view of the relation between language and thought that held that linguistic commonplaces were a necessary and integral part of all communication and expression, including literature itself.

Not only did Terror display an impoverished understanding of the poetic potential of commonplaces, he argued, but it was self-contradictory even in its own terms; indeed the terrorist who, by waging war on words, sought by his words to establish the priority of thought over language was at best only likely to win a Pyrrhic victory. In the debate between thought and language, Paulhan concluded, all was a question of perspective; and what may be proof of the priority of thought over language for the writer of a text, may be for the reader of the self-same text exactly the reverse, and vice versa.

But as Paulhan pursued this argument, he slowly became aware that the opposition between Terror and Rhetoric was less clear-cut than it first appeared; and in the end it is even as though the terrorist protesting against his dependence on a given state of language has more in common with the rhetorician than the rhetorician himself. Despite their seeming incompatibility, then, it transpires that Terror and Rhetoric have far more in common than seemed to be the case; and Paulhan, even as he promotes the hope of a rhetorical reconciliation between Rhetoric and Terror, is also left in conclusion quizzically undermining the foundations of his own argument.

What had begun as a crusade against Terror ends up following a vicious circle of its own making; for Rhetoric rediscovered, as Paulhan concedes, is not far removed from Terrorist purism reaffirmed. For all commonplaces, as Paulhan points out, are by nature uncontrollably duplicitous, which is why they provide ammunition for both rhetorician and terrorist alike. To the extent that they can be repeated in any and every circumstance, they are proof of the precedence of language over thought; but in so far as they may be used in each case as though for the very first time, they are evidence of the inventiveness of human thought in its encounter with language.

Being common, their purpose is to enable communication; but being unoriginal, they just as easily defeat it; they are a prime instance of the poverty and insufficiency of everyday speech; but they are sometimes full of the most surprisingly florid turns of phrase or figures. Statements are inverted into their opposites without transition, and paradox becomes the only viable figure of thought at all.

But as literature embarks on this contestatory project, it has to negate its own conditions of possibility, for it is clear that without language and without the existence of previous texts, and without the conventions regulating and enabling them, there can be no recognisable thing such as literature at all.

If literature chooses to exist only on the basis of the purity and originality of its endeavours, it is soon faced with the realisation that on those terms it cannot exist at all, except as endless banality or mute silence.