The first question of Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae makes the argument that sacred doctrine is an Aristotelian science and, furthermore, the most certain of the sciences. According to Aristotle, this means that the first principles of sacred science must be certain. The normal modes of grasping the certainty of principles are either by demonstrating them by a higher science or by a direct grasp of them by the natural light of the agent intellect. Both of these avenues, however, are closed (...) to sacred science. It would seem, then, that if sacred doctrine is a science, it can have no scientists in the wayfaring state. Aquinas unties this knot by proposing a third way of grasping the certainty of the first principles, namely, by faith. Only by the supernatural and graced assent of faith can the articles of faith be known as certain and allow sacred doctrine to fit into the mold of an Aristotelian science. (shrink)
On 22 July, 2011, we were confronted with the horror of the actions of Anders Behring Breivik. The instant reaction, as we have seen with similar incidents in the past—such as the Oklahoma City bombings—was to attempt to explain the incident. Whether the reasons given were true or not were irrelevant: the fact that there was a reason was better than if there were none. We should not dismiss those that continue to cling on to the initial claims of a (...) wider Jihadist plot behind the actions of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols as Islamophobes (or merely lacking common sense): for, it is often easier to rely on reason—no matter how fictional—than not to have anything to cling on at all. In many ways, it is even better if the reason is fictional: for, if grounded in a certain fact, or reality, it can then go away. However, if it is in the realm of the imaginary, it is then always already metaphorical: thus, can be applied to any and every situation. And it is this, if we echo Friedrich Nietzsche, that gives us our “metaphysical comfort”; that we can know what is going on. This is why conspiracy theories are so popular: underlying them is the logic that someone—no matter how implausible—is in control of the situation. One would rather believe that all acts of terror stemmed from Osama bin Laden (and the narrative worked even better when he was in a ‘cave in Afghanistan’) than if they were the actions, and decisions, of singular individuals. For, if there is a head organizing everything, it can be cut off; there is no controlling a mass of singularities. As Jean Baudrillard continues to teach us, the term ‘mass’ is not a concept. It is a leitmotif of political demagogy, a soft, sticky, lumpen-analytical notion. A good sociology would attempt to surpass it with ‘more subtle’ categories: socio-professional ones, categories of class, cultural status, etc. This is wrong: it is by prowling around these soft and acritical notions (like ‘mana’ once was) that one can go further than intelligent critical sociology. Besides, it will be noticed retrospectively that the concepts ‘class’, ‘social relations’, ‘power’, ‘status’, ‘institution’, and ‘social’ itself—all these too-explicit concepts which are the glory of the legitimate sciences—but also only ever been muddled notions themselves, but notions upon which agreement has nevertheless been reached for mysterious ends: those of preserving a certain code of analysis. To want to specify the term ‘mass’ is a mistake—it is to provide meaning for that which has none.1 And it is this lack of meaning—this nothingness of not only the mass, but our inability to know in general—that truly scares us. For, if we are never able to legitimately make a generalizing statement, this suggests that we can never actually posit beyond a singular, situational, moment. Hence, we can never claim to know anyone: at best, we can only catch momentary glimpses. It is for this very reason that the insanity plea Breivik’s lawyer will attempt is the one that horrifies us the most. For, if Breivik is insane, this foregrounds our inability to understand, know. And as Aristotle has taught us, it is more important that something is plausible than if something were probable—in this context, we would rather have Breivik as a calculating mass murderer than someone who was completely out of his mind. This is especially ironic in the light of the fact that none of us would say that we have any similarity with Breivik. If that were so, the declaration that he was mad should be no more than a logical consequence. However, we also want Breivik to be accountable for his actions. And in order for that to be so, we need him to be of sound mind. But if that were true, we can then no longer distinguish ourselves from him. And it is precisely this that scares us. For, we are horrified not when there are abnormalities to our way of life. There are usually two different reactions to this—either oppose and destroy it; or subsume it under the dominant logic. We see this most clearly in reactions to immigration: there are either calls for immigrants to ‘pack up and leave’ or pseudo-liberal notions of ‘we are all alike’. Both of which are merely version of “all men are brothers”—the brutal translation of which is that you are my brother if you live the same way as me; otherwise not only are you not my brother, you are also potentially not part of mankind (you might as well be, to echo Giorgio Agamben, bare life ). This is played out in our age of what is commonly termed post-political bio-politics —an instance of horribly awkward theoretical jargon that Slavoj Žižek channeling Agamben unpacks rather elegantly: “ post-politics is a politics which claims to leave behind old ideological struggles and, instead, focus[es] on expert management and administration, while bio-politics designates the regulation of the security and welfare of human lives as its primary goal.”2 Žižek continues: Post-political bio-politics also has two aspects which cannot but appear to belong to two opposite ideological spaces: that of the reduction of humans to ‘bare life,’ to Homo sacer , that so-called sacred being who is the object of expert caretaking knowledge, but is excluded, like prisoners at Guantanamo or Holocaust victims, from all rights; and that of respect for the vulnerable Other brought to an extreme through an attitude of narcissistic subjectivity which experiences the self as vulnerable, constantly exposed to a multitude of potential harassments [….] What these two poles share is precisely the underlying refusal of any higher causes, the notion that the ultimate goal of our lives is life itself. That is why there is no contradiction between the respect for the vulnerable Other and […] the extreme expression of treating individuals as Homini sacer .3 This is why the ones that are harshest towards new immigrants are the recently naturalized citizens of any country. For, if there is no longer any “ideological struggle” and all life is reduced to mere automaton-living, there is the realization that we are all the same—not in a tree-hugging hippie sense—but that the immigrant is the same as us precisely because we are all immigrants. And since all nations, and by extension peoples in a nation (especially those who believe in the notion of nationality, and national identity), have to find some manner, no matter from where or what it is, to distinguish themselves from those around them, the other (in spite, and especially in the light, of its absence) is the most crucial aspect of the discourse of nationality. More precisely, in the interests of what Baudrillard calls “preserving a certain code of analysis” (nationality in this case), what has to be maintained is the absolute otherness of the other. Very rarely is Boris Johnson right: “it is not enough to say he is mad. Anders Breivik is patently mad.”4 However, much like Breivik in his manifesto, he should have stopped whilst he was ahead. By attempting to diagnose Breivik—“the fundamental reasons for their callous behavior lie deep in their own sense of rejection and alienation. It is the ideology that gives them the ostensible cause … that gives them an excuse to dramatize the resentment … and to kill.”—Johnson falls into the same trap that he accuses others of: “to try to advance any other explanation for their actions … is simply to play their self-important game.” More crucially, and this is the point that Johnson completely misses, attempting to rationalize Breivik’s actions—to rehabilitate reason—is a desperate attempt at maintaining his otherness. In fact, we’ll end up going one step further, insist on Breivik’s sanity, put him on the stand, and hope that he will display such a difference from all of us that we can rest safe that we are unlike him and his kind. That, in itself, is a dangerous game to play. One should not forget that the turning point in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is in the central part of her novel where she lets the monster speak. At that moment, the monster moves from an ‘it’ to a fully subjectivized person; with his own stories, historicities, emotions, and so on. In Slavoj Žižek’s reading of Frankenstein , this is the moment where “the ultimate criminal is thus allowed to present himself as the ultimate victim. The monstrous murderer reveals himself to be a deeply hurt and desperate individual, yearning for company and love.”5 But, in the case of Breivik, this goes beyond just a risk of us feeling for him: for, no right-minded person should ever deny another the opportunity to put forth her or his own case. The problem lies with us trying to deny the madness of Breivik’s act by putting him back under reason. The problem is in our inability to differentiate the act from the person; the singular from the universal.6 In our desperation to preserve the notion that we are rational beings incapable of becoming monsters, we’ve had to deny the meaninglessness—in the strict sense of it lying outside of reason—of Breivik’ act; we’ve had to “provide meaning where there is none.” For, if this act were a moment of madness—a moment that comes from elsewhere—we cannot say that it will not descend upon us one day. If Breivik’s actions were that of a sane person, one who is in control of his being, his self, we can then locate the otherness in his being. More importantly, this would allow us to distinguish ourselves from that said being. Breivik’s sanity is the only thing that allows us to say that ‘this act of terror is borne out of one with an ultra-right ideology’; and ‘since I am not of that ideology, I would never do such a thing’. By doing that, we attempt to protect ourselves by claiming that people who share Breivik’s ideology are foreign to us, other to us. However, if Breivik’s act was a moment of insanity, his otherness is no longer locatable: and the notion of ‘us and them’ shifts from a geographical, physical, religious, or cultural notion, to one in the realm of ideas. And this is what truly scares us. For, if what is foreign is not phenomenological, then it cannot be seen, detected, sensed. Anders Behring Breivik, Timothy McVeigh, and Terry Nichols, terrify us not merely for the fact that they were white in a white society, but more pertinently that their skin color did not matter: we would not be able to spot them even if they were blue, even if they were right next to us, even if we had known them all our lives. Even as we are grappling with holding Breivik accountable by declaring him of sound mind, what truly terrifies us is that deep down we know that Breivik’s act is a moment of madness; beyond all comprehensibility. And this means that we would not be able to spot the idea; even if it were in our heads at this very moment. We have gone to lengths to rehabilitate Breivik, McVeigh, Nichols, and such perpetrators of massive incomprehensible violence, in order to preserve our difference from them. What we have really been trying to deny is the fact that everyone, at any given moment, could have a moment of madness. And this is the true radicality of Mary Shelley: in allowing us to momentarily enter the head of the monster, she shows us not just the fact that he is like any one of us, but that any one of us could, in the right (or wrong) circumstance, be like him. Perhaps here, there is a lesson to be learned from Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street . The most dangerous thing that one could do on Elm Street was to mention Freddy’s name—once you had knowledge of him, you were open to the possibility of a visit during your dreams. This suggests that Freddy is a combination of externalities (after all, when you die, he survives) and your self (if you have never heard of him, he cannot come for you). In this sense, Freddy would be the manifestation par excellence of what Avital Ronell calls a “killer text”—it is one’s relationality with the text (and the ideas, notions, in the said text) that opens oneself to it, to the lessons of the text, to being changed, affected, even to the dangers of the text. After all, one should never forget Plato’s warning that ideas can corrupt, can be perilous. To compound matters, as Ronell reminds us, “the connection to the other is a reading—not an interpretation, assimilation, or even a hermeneutic understanding, but a reading.”7 Thus, in attempting to differentiate ourselves from Breivik by concocting some reason(s) why we are not like him, we have done nothing but read him, open a connection to him. *** Bang bang, he shot me down Bang bang, I hit the ground Bang bang, that awful sound Bang bang, my baby shot me down. “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” Sonny Bono, 1966. This is the part that we all know and remember. Whilst never quite remembering that this is a song that is not so much about violence, love, but about remembering. For, after the bridge comes the accusatory stanza: “Now he's gone, I don't know why/ And till this day, sometimes I cry/ He didn't even say goodbye/ He didn't take the time to lie.” Bang Bang is a game that the two lovers used to play; and all she has now is the memory of the game to remember him by. And the only reason she has to recall this game is: he never provided her a reason for his leaving, his death. Not that she will, can, ever get that satisfactory answer. This is precisely the game we are playing with Anders Behring Breivik. Even though he has left a 1500 page manifesto, even though we will allow him to use the court-room as his platform, we will continue screaming at him “tell me why …” For, what we want him to say is that we are not like him: what we really want him to do is, “take the time to lie …” Perhaps here, we should allow the echo of the infans to resound in baby . As Christopher Fynsk reminds us, the infans is one that is pre-language, pre-knowing, pre-understanding: it is the very finitude, and exteriority, of relationality itself.8 And thus, it is a position of openness to the fullness of possibility—and nothing else. This would be, in Ronell’s terms, a “connection to the other” that knows nothing other than the fact that it is a connection. The true horror of 22 July, 2011, is the fact that it is not Anders Behring Breivik who is mad, but the act itself that is. And this is precisely why only “my baby” that could have “shot me down.” For, it is an act that is from beyond, a sheer act of madness that—as Plato warns us—is whispered into our ears (and can so easily be mistaken for inspiration, and even wisdom), an act that can both seize, and cease, us at the same time. And what can this utter openness to an other, the other, be but a moment of love, a true ‘falling in love’. At the moment of whispering, nothing can be known as we are babies as our baby shoots us down …. Hence, all attempts at analyzing this event (including this one) are not only futile, but border on the farcical. The real tragedy is that we forget that all of us have the possibility of becoming Breivik. NOTES Jean Baudrillard. In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities . Trans. Paul Foss, John Johnston, Paul Patton, & Andrew Berardini. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2007. p. 37. Slavoj Žižek. Violence: Six Sideway Reflections . London: Profile Books, 2009. p. 34 Ibid: 35-36. Boris Johnson. “ Anders Breivik: There is nothing to study in the mind of Norway’s mass killer .” The Telegraph . (25 July, 2011): Slavoj Žižek. Violence: Six Sideway Reflections . London: Profile Books, 2009. p.39. What is killing us is the notion that Breivik’s act is beyond reason, beyond knowing, outside understanding itself. This is why Boris Johnson’s plea was for us to ignore Breivik as a madman. But to do so, Johnson conflates the notion of the act and the person; the singular and the universal. This is exactly the same gesture as insisting on his sanity: the ‘madman’ is merely the absolute other, one that we are not. Avital Ronell. The Telephone Book: Technology, Schizophrenia, Electric Speech . Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989: 380. Christopher Fynsk. Infant Figures: The Death of the Infans and Other Scenes of Origin . Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000.  . (shrink)
Joseph P. Fell, Vincent Colapietro, and Michael J. McGandy, eds., The Task of Criticism: Essays on Philosophy, History, and Community, ; and Michael J. McGandy, The Active Life: Miller's Metaphysics of Democracy.
continent. 2.1 (2012): 44–55. Philosophers are sperm, poetry erupts sperm and dribbles, philosopher recodes term, to terminate, —A. Staley Groves 1 There is, in the relation of human languages to that of things, something that can be approximately described as “overnaming”—the deepest linguistic reason for all melancholy and (from the point of view of the thing) for all deliberate muteness. Overnaming as the linguistic being of melancholy points to another curious relation of language: the overprecision that obtains in the tragic (...) relationship between the languages of human speakers. —Walter Benjamin 2 Prologue. Any text with an inflection of the word “thesis” in its title risks closing the borders of what is posited in it. However, perhaps it would be possible to think this act of defining in a way that is less, so to say, definitive. I would like to recall the opening line of Aristotle’s De Interpretatione , a constellation of theses, if anything. “First it needs to be posited [ thesthai ] what a noun and what a verb [is].” 3 Upon closer inspection, the definitions of the noun ( onoma ) and verb ( rh?ma ) do not at all appeal to any notion of strictly bordering-off, but are merely captured in a movement toward definition, establishing their own horizons. 4 It is therefore not a coincidence that Aristotle deploys the aorist medio-passive infinitive thesthai to describe this process. It is an infinite, self-instigating movement without proper horizon or telos . 5 It is this sense of thesis in relation to the basic components of language that I will attempt—perhaps in what may prove to be a gesture of what Walter Benjamin called “overnaming” 6 —to posit as cumposition , the composition of philosophical discourse that is conscious of the abyss of language in which it moves. 7 1. In her essay “When Philosophy Meant the Love of Wisdom,” Avital Ronell evokes the following question: What if philosophy’s love for wisdom has gone bad? The perversity of philosophy’s love not only appears in its recursiveness as the love of love for wisdom, first presented in Plato’s Symposium , but also “in all its brutality, especially when it’s set against literature and poetry.” 8 Philosophy’s love is a brutal one, perverse. Indeed, Immanuel Kant famously described the scene of metaphysics as a ‘battleground of … endless controversies,” 9 and “destined for exercising its forces in mock combat, and upon which no combatant has ever been able to gain even the least ground for himself by fighting.” 10 Because of the many modalities of love from the onset of philosophy onwards, Ronell signals the difficulty of addressing in any universal way the question of love in philosophy, unless she would consider it “in its essentially sado-masochistic dimension.” 11 As Heidegger already remarked parenthetically in his Introduction to Metaphysics , polemos as war and confrontation is the same as the logos . 12 Philosophy has always been a polemical discourse. 2. At the same moment, however untimely this moment may be, love has been conspicuously absent from Heidegger’s work. Nevertheless, Giorgio Agamben has been able to tease out Dasein’s love as a “passion of facticity.” 13 Agamben develops from out of Heidegger’s war-struck logos the following definition of love, which will allows to proceed to a reading of the origin of philosophy itself as the love of wisdom, a relation that in itself may hide “a kind of original fetishism.” 14 What man introduces into the world, his “proper,” is not simply the light and opening of knowledge but above all the opening to concealment and opacity. Al?theia , truth, is the safeguard of l?th? , nontruth; […] Love is the passion of facticity in which man bears this nonbelonging and darkness, appropriating ( adsuefacit [ ereignet ]) them while safeguarding them as such. Love is thus not, as the dialectic of desire suggests, the affirmation of the self in the negation of the loved object; it is, instead, the passion and exposition of facticity itself and of the irreducible impropriety of being. In love, the lover and the beloved come to light in their concealment, in an eternal facticity beyond Being . 15 Truth as al?theia , “unhiddenness” or “unconcealment,” which has in recent times again gained a special prominence in certain regions of philosophical discourse, is thus the ultimate expression of Dasein’s love, even if, for the philosopher, the beloved is love itself. 3. In Plato’s Symposium , Socrates famously introduces the philosopher as a figure in love with wisdom. But also Love himself is a philosopher, a lover of wisdom; he is an interpreter ( herm?neuon ), 16 a hermeneutic, a messenger between the gods and men. He organises all intercourse and dialectic interaction between them. 17 Plato’s definition starts with Socrates invoking Diotima of Mantineia, who had instructed him in eroticism. 18 Diotima inseminated Socrates with the seeds of philosophy, taught him how to love. We can imagine young Socrates paying his first visit to her, seeking affection and pleasure in her maternal body. “What then,” we hear Socrates asking, “may love be?” And here we find Diotima answering his call: “the love of the good is always to its own [ aut?i einai aei ].” Socrates answers: “that is the very truth [ al?thestata ],” 19 or, as Heidegger would translate it, “the most unhidden.” 20 So already in this primal scene of philosophy’s love we find the intimate relation between love and unconcealment. 4. If Love is a philosopher who practices the love of the good as the highest truth, an abyss opens: what is the truth of philosophy itself? Necessarily, this must be a truth outside the logic of (un)concealment, outside the logic of the Ereignis or the event, if it doesn’t want to fall into an infinite regress. Some have argued that there is no such thing as philosophical truth, yet this truth has appeared, albeit marginally, in another discussion of love, as the etumos logos , true discourse. 21 This was already pointed at by Michel Foucault, 22 and later commented upon by Christopher Fynsk: “the exigencies to which Foucault answered in seeking his 'truth,' [ etumos ] […] are linked to an exigency met in any consequent meditation on the essence of language.” 23 Any consequent meditation on the essence of language, perhaps a meditation as it takes place within philosophy on its own language, will have to arrive at a certain truth, even when as unstable, incoherent, and assaulting the borders of finitude as etymology may be. Etymology is the truth of philosophical discourse. 5. Our meditation on the relations between philosophy, love and truth means in no way to move toward a philosophy which would take “Desire” as its transcendental signified, distributing different desires for truth through different discourse levels, nor discard it as an extra-philosophical affect. A position such as would be assumed by any philosophy of desire is ferociously attacked by Jean-François Lyotard in his book Libidinal Economy , but in doing so he hits upon a—for him despicable—condition of the philosopher, the one who is “nothing but thought,” the one with whom we tend to sympathise; the condition of the “as if.” This is philosophy’s meta-ontological mask. Philosophy’s love is the love of the as if: “[A]nd so, to be, I have only to place myself as well in the circumference, turn with the intensities, act as if I loved, suffered, laughed, ran, fucked, slept, shat, and pissed, I, thought.” 24 Even though Lyotard wishes that “this supreme effort of thought die,” 25 we, in our turn and not so afraid to die, may now also perhaps define etumos as truth “as if” al?theia ; the former makes an appeal to the latter’s affect, but is not “the real thing”—or wherever the quotation marks need to take hold to stabilise our discourse. 6. Even a philosophical discourse as self-asserting and sanitised from any affective overtones as Alain Badiou’s does not escape this condition. In his work, the philosopher is a figure of circulation, someone who, at the end of the day, can only act “as if.” This typology of the philosopher is first hinted at in Being and Event , when Badiou claims that, “philosophy is not centred on ontology—which exists as a separate and exact discipline—rather it circulates between this ontology […], the modern theories of the subject and its own history.” 26 Philosophy is thus in the first place separated from ontology and therefore merely circulates along it. Beside ontology, which in Badiou’s work appears as a fully atonic axiomatization of set theory, 27 philosophy circulates through the theories of the subject, which, under the procedure of poetry, are subtractive of ontology, thus allowing for the appearance of a truth as an event ( Ereignis as the unconcealment of concealment) and subjective fidelity, and the history of philosophy itself: its discourses and the story of its limitless love of wisdom. For Badiou, the right of philosophy is the right to cite its conditions, the right to cite their truths. The text of philosophy is the text of citation. 28 The philosophical act thus is “an act of second thought.” 29 7. If, as Plato suggested, the love for the good is the highest truth, the bursting forth of this truth as event happens outside philosophy. Either as the ultimate idea that is sought or as uncounted inconsistency exploding into maximum existence, registered on philosophy’s seismographs, this truth as event remains tightly bound to a philosophical desire for truth. Mehdi Belhaj Kacem even claims that “the event […] is the ontological structure of Desire,” 30 and “Desire wants the event.” 31 Superlatively (perhaps: most truthfully), “The event has the structure of rape.” 32 Although we should place a number of question marks in the margins of Kacem’s philosophical project and his rapid conflation of multiple textual registers, he does point out a certain sedation of philosophy’s love of wisdom in Badiou’s work. However, that philosophy would be a place to house multiple truths, circulating among them, again opens us to the ‘perversity’ of this love that Ronell pointed out. Philosophy cruises truths. 8. How does philosophy’s “second thought” arrive, if ever? Philosophy’s lovely circulation through what is already presented by mathematics, theories of the subject and its own history is first conditioned by a sustained belief in the possibility of formalisation. But what if this formalisation itself is bound to fail? What if we deny formalisation, or at least point to the discomfort we experience of such forcing to formal appearance such as painstakingly described in Witold Gombrowicz’ literary oeuvre. Jacques Derrida already pointed out in reference to Husserl’s final appeal to geometry, that “the institution of geometry could only be a philosophical act.” 33 Similarly, we could criticise that the act of formalisation on which Badiou’s citational appropriation of mathematics, and therefore the circulation of philosophy, rests: “As soon as we utilize the concept of form—even if to criticize an other concept of form—we inevitably have recourse to the self-evidence of a kernel of meaning. And the medium of this self-evidence can be nothing than the language of metaphysics.” 34 At the end of the same essay Derrida sketches out the consequences this has for philosophy, which, however, strangely resonate with what Badiou proposes as philosophy’s circulation. One might think […] that formality—or formalization—is limited by the sense of Being which, in fact, throughout its entire history, has never been separated from its determination as presence, beneath the excellent surveillance of the is : and that henceforth the thinking of form has the power to extend itself the thinking of Being. But that the two limits thus denounced are the same may be what Husserl’s enterprise illustrates[.…] Thus, one probably does not have to choose between two lines of thought. Rather, one has to meditate upon the circularity which makes them pass into on another indefinitely. And also, by rigorously repeating this circle in its proper historical possibility, perhaps to let some elliptical displacement be produced in the difference of repetition: a deficient displacement, doubtless, but deficient in a way that is not yet—or no longer—absence, negativity , non-Being, lack, silence. 35 In many ways this resounds with what I have stated above. Although Badiou radically separates the “thinking of form” and the “thinking of Being” to respectively the meta-ontological/philosophical domain and the ontological/mathematical domain, the remainder within philosophy itself appears as this “ circle in its proper historical possibility.” And indeed we may have traced a “deficient displacement” which is not yet or no longer an “absence” as would be the truth subtractive to ontology: the “as if”–truth 36 of the etumos as truth in philosophy itself, the truth of philosophy as love of wisdom. 9. We may want to ask whether the two lines of thought theorised by Derrida and again separated by Badiou both exhibit this circularity. If that would be the case, this would allow us to consider their intertwinement more in depth. What Derrida calls the “thinking of Being” and Badiou refers to as “ontology” is thoroughly unbound by what is commonly referred to in an economic discourse as capitalism. The sudden insertion of a materialist trope may seem infelicitous here, however, capitalism has, as Badiou put it succinctly, also a “properly ontological virtue.” 37 The logic of capitalism, even though it operates in the “most complete barbarity,” 38 has an ontological virtue of its own, namely the destruction of the One as viable metaphysical point of departure. The “barbarity” of capitalism’s destructive character operates by “brute force,” but also sometimes by, as Walter Benjamin put it, “the most refined” 39 one. In any case, it unbinds all. As Lyotard stated in one of his seemingly unending sentences: Capital is not the denaturation of relations between man and man, nor between man and woman, is the wavering of the (imaginary?) primacy of genitality, of reproduction and sexual difference, it is the displacement of what was in place, it is the unbinding of the most inane pulsions, since money is the sole justification or bond, and money being able to justify anything, it deresponsibilizes and raves absolutely, it is the sophistics of the passions and at the same time, their energetic prosthetics; […] it has certain anti-unitary and anti-totalizing traits [...]40 Thus capital and capitalism are figures of unbinding and circulation. We find ourselves here in the metaphorical domain of philosophy that both in Lyotard and Badiou has its recourse to an economic discourse. Derrida has addressed this tendency at length in his essay “White Mythology,”41 and in a different register I will attempt to address it below, acknowledging that indeed philosophical language may be a “fund of 'forced metaphors.'”42 10. How is it that truth emerges from the ontological wasteland of capitalism, to be captured by philosophy’s love of wisdom? What is this love responding to and how is it that philosophy refuses to turn the other cheek to reality? Perhaps a beginning of an answer to this question may lie in the way in which Marx parenthetically defined capitalism: “the universal relation of utility and use” as “universal prostitution.” 43 which includes everyone: Prostitution is only a particular expression of the general prostitution of the worker, and because prostitution is a relationship which includes both the person prostituted and the person prostituting—whose baseness is even greater—thus the capitalist, too, etc. is included within this category. 44 It may prove fruitful to read general prostitution here in the logic of unbinding and circulation, following Benjamin, who speaks of an “erotology of the damned.” 45 Benjamin’s work on the German translation of Charles Baudelaire must definitely have influenced his work on the destructive character of capitalism. The tropes of prostitution and destruction already appear in his note on the poem “Destruction” from Les fleurs du mal . “The bloody apparatus of destruction,” Benjamin asks himself, where is this phrase in Baudelaire? 46 In Baudelaire’s poem, the demon of destruction takes on the “most seductive form” of women, and seduces the visitor to the “planes of Boredom,” where he is introduced to the “filthy clothes' and “open wounds” and the “bloody apparatus of Destruction.” Is it from these “planes of Boredom, profound and barren” 47 that philosophy gleans its truths. 11. If philosophy thinks ontology as prostitutional, whom does it cite? Although to some authors, it would suffice to use the indicative quality of language as such to open such an ontology, 48 we should perhaps focus here on the atonic desert where the prostitutional machinery is blithely at work as captured in the work of Pierre Guyotat. He opens up to such an interpretation when he states that his novel Tomb for Fifty Thousand Soldiers is, “in spite of everything, metaphysical; a metaphysics of history, certainly not religious; it is also a somewhat ontological.” 49 Several philosophers that I have addressed above refer to his work; for example Badiou, who refers to the “neo-classicism” of Guyotat as a resurrection of the “cosmological aim” of grand literature hearkening back to Lucretius. 50 Guyotat’s “prostitutional universe,” 51 which reduces “all vital norms to the immediate commercial potentials of the body.” 52 On the other side of the philosophical spectrum, Lyotard digs deeper, describing the actual jouissance of the worker submitted to the capitalist machinery, “the machine of the machine, fucker fucked by it.” 53 And he continues: “And let’s finally acknowledge this jouissance , which is similar […] in every way to that of prostitution, the jouissance of anonimity, the jouissance of the repetition of the same in work, […]. Jouissance is unbearable .” 54 This is what Guyotat so “admirably” expresses in his work, and is also professed by himself. The same logic as Lyotard’s clearly appears upon reading a few sentences from his seminal essay Langage du corps (Language of the body). But on reflection, what spectacle is more brutally exciting than that of a child wanking with his left hand, in this system, and writing with his right. In the resultant disarray. There must be seen one of the terms of this contradictory pulsional will, being at the same time seen and voyeur (“seeing”), pimp and whore, buyer and bought, fucker and fucked. 55 Lyotard described this—within a philosophical discourse that is—as a “superbly capitalist dispositif ,” 56 a mode of writing-masturbating in which production and consumption coincide, truly a “bloody apparatus of destruction.” This logic equally distorts the clear distance that is regularly maintained by writers—and nearly always by philosophers—toward their own work. To me, the most concise formulation of this contracted distance can be located in the neologism that Guyotat coins in his novel Prostitution: “ nhommer ,” ringing with both homme (man) and nommer (to name). For example in the otherwise “untranslatable” sentence: ma e s’renâcl’ chuya se l’mâl’ le nhomme’, lui prend la fess’ o lui frott’ la mostach. 57 Nhommer is therefore an en-hommer , an insemination of a man, life-giving and naming, as well as a n’hommer , its own negation and undoing. This is echoed by Benjamin when he says that in the Bible, “the 'Let there be' and in the words 'He named' a beginning and end of the act, the deep and clear relation of the creative act to language appears each time.” 58 Nhommer is a creative act philosophy cannot accomplish but only approach. The writer always n/mam/nes , the philosopher may only cite, at the risk of introducing prostitutional logic, the shortcuts between naming and creating, creating and exploiting the fabric of philosophy. 12. Prostitutional ontology, materially captured by the bloody, short-circuiting apparatuses of capitalism, can only be cited by philosophy, acted out, at the risk of unbinding the whole of philosophical discourse itself. The events and miracles on the atonic planes of boredom may not affect philosophy itself. This could be one of the reasons that sex and sexual difference have largely remained outside of the realm philosophy. Derrida has already done a considerable amount of work on this curious lack, especially in two essays entitled “ Geschlecht ” on Heidegger’s work and Dasein’s sexuality. In “ Geschlecht 1: Sexual Difference, Ontological Difference,” Derrida investigates the role of sexuality in Heidegger’s definition of Dasein, and his general silence on the topics of sex and gender. “It is as if […] sexual difference did not rise to the height [ hauteur ] of ontological difference. […] But insofar as it is open to the question of Being, insofar as it has a relation to Being, in that very reference, Dasein would not be sexiferous [ sexifère ].” 59 The material that I adduced above might give us a frame in which to interpret this repression of Dasein’s sexuality in Heidegger. In philosophy, sexual difference is cited as ontological difference. Prostitution is cited as the unbinding of Being. However, the unbinding or separating force, hailed as the virtue of capitalism and eagerly imported into philosophical discourse, perhaps even brought to the “height of ontological difference,” is also always already at work in philosophy itself, be it as a separation between ontological and theological domains in Aristotle or the separation between a truth procedure and the citational dispositif of philosophy in Badiou. The truth, as Anne Dufourmentelle put it in her book on sex and philosophy, extracted from the “torture chamber” 60 of philosophy is that this separation is always already sexualized. If etymology is not the key to Bluebeard’s seventh door, it at least opens up a little skylight in the chamber of horrors. In Latin, sexus means separation. The Church Fathers to whom we owe the development of the Latin language thus anticipated by several centuries Lacan’s too famous remark: “There is no sexual relation.” 61 The truth of Lacan’s statement that “there is no sexual relation,” in the precise sense that the term “sex” derives from “separation” and vice versa is only etymologically validated within philosophy. The power of its truth only appears etymologically as philosophical truth. 13. Literature does not need to prove this point. It immediately participates in the circulatory logic of sexuation, without the need to distance itself from it through citational checkpoints and border patrols. It allows language to derange freely, as literature often reminds us of. Dufourmentelle clarifies to us once again, illustrating Guyotat’s point that I cited above. The act of writing is performative: writing and thinking are acts. What philosophy cannot tolerate is the nonresponse to which the enigma of sex refers it. No philosopher can bear up the boudoir. What philosophy does not succeed in conceptualizing is the traversal of a disaster. […] It may be that traversing the impossibility of the relation to sex is what founds philosophy. The black sun of thought about sex. Sex is what leads to traversal, to exile; it orients and disorients. From this exile, literature is born. Literature is the other, hidden guest at this blind date in the boudoir. 62 In her introduction to Dufourmentelle’s book, Ronell even goes as far as suggesting that certain regions of philosophy may be coinciding with the realm of “obliterature,” a space of thought’s disavowal of sex. 63 Indeed, sex induces in philosophy an anti-Platonic “black sun of thought,” that is, following Julia Kristeva, melancholy, when the words don’t come: “Recall the speech of the depressed: repetitive and monotonous. Within the impossibility to link up, the phrase interrupts itself, depletes, halts.” 64 To refer ourselves to Aristotle’s first thoughts on properly philosophical language with which we opened this text, for Aristotle the mind suddenly “halts” the moment it hears a noun or verb that is not well inflected, not properly disseminated into language. 65 Already the minimum of grammatical failure is enough for the philosopher to fall into a stupor. The unworking of grammar is the melancholic condition of philosophy. 14. We need to find the language in which philosophy writes, a writing that organises the “ elliptical displacement” of philosophy blindly circulating through its conditions, perhaps even a “language of decentering, or a dispositif of acephalic writing.” 66 But as Ronell has brilliantly argued in her reading of Freud’s case of the Rat Man, “The Sujet suppositaire ,” the circulation of philosophy should always be read through a lexicon of intervention and insemination which she calls an “Oedipedagogy,” 67 a mode of obsessional neurotic thinking, that is, a mode of cir- cul -ation: around the arse, around the riddles of the sphincter. 68 As a mode of what Ronell calls with Freud the “obsessional neurotic style,” a style of punning, the cir- cul -ation of philosophy rests on paronomasia, that is, the domain of paronomy and etymology. This is however not without scandal. In some circles of truth’s closure, pun has remained the name of an indictment, an accusatory identification of that which takes too much pleasure, disarranging academic languages, promoting a rhetoric of looseness within the parameters of a recreational linguistics, valuelessly succumbing to the most indefensible copulations of meaning, related […] to the temporal succession of shame over pleasure, incriminating the grammar of some strict order of things, and so forth. 69 That punning and its avatars of paronomasia and etymology are already present in one of the most philosophical grammars of a “strict order of things” provides us with a clue that in composition of philosophical language itself, something may be “indefensibly copulating.” 15. In the opening paragraph of Aristotle’s Categories , otherwise a work of remarkable philosophical rigour and properly purged language, we may track down the “elliptical displacement” or “acephalic writing” of philosophy. This is not to be found in the first two semantic relations described by Aristotle—homonymy and synonymy, or the grand metaphysical concepts equivocity and univocity—but in the third one, largely neglected in the corpus of occidental philosophical discourse, or so it seems. This relation, or perhaps more felicitous, movement in language, is called paronymy , and is defined as follows: “Paronymous are called those which, differing from something through case, have an appellation according to the name [of those], like 'grammarian' [ grammatikos ] from 'grammar' [ grammatik?s ] and 'courageous-man' [ andreios ] from 'courageous' [ andreias ].” 70 Paronymy, which is regulated through case ( pt?sis ), the way in which words fall into a sentence, is addressed to the form of the word, the manner of its signification, and not its meaning. 71 Case is also the driving force behind ontological differentiation, regulating the formal aspects of Being falling into beings. What is regulated by case in philosophy is regulated by the supposedly unrestrained punning and paronomasia in the process of sexual differentiation. Paronymy and case offer philosophy a window to peek into modes of discourse it does not like to associate itself with. But at the same time, philosophy is already contaminated by paronymy, which introduces the problematic of formalisation itself, the form of the name and of language at the heart of many metaphysical issues. The glorious theories of accident and substance, subject and object, Being and beings, and so on, cannot be inserted in the philosophical discourse without the lubricant of paronymy. 16. Paronymy, moving from form to form, is not without its methodology. Aristotle’s logic of the paradigm closely mimics the movement of case, neither from particular to universal, nor from universal to particular, but from particular to particular. 72 We are confronted here with what Agamben calls a “paradoxical type of movement,” 73 a movement that moves along itself and away from the doxa , the rule, and which should only be deployed when other means of deductive of syllogistic reasoning are no longer available. The paradigm signifies an insufficiency of properly philosophical thought. It should therefore not surprise us that the paradigm finds its modern inflection in what Lacan calls the “signifying chain,” where “no signification can be sustained except by reference to another signification.” 74 Metaphor is here the name for “the effect of the substitution of one signifier for another in the chain, nothing natural predestining the signifier for this function of phoros apart from the fact that two signifiers are involved, which can, as such, be reduced to a phonemic opposition,” 75 whereas at same time it is the “sole serious reality for man.” 76 It is here that Lacan explicitly chooses the reality of the etumos , the material cause of psychoanalysis, over the revelation al?theia . We might therefore interpret psychoanalysis as the only inflection of philosophy that insists on etumos as the sole source of truth. 17. If it the case, again according to our teacher Aristotle, that all meaningful philosophical discourse is essentially composed in an organised manner, we may insert in the composition of that word itself, in its philosophical circulation, a foreign element. Perhaps this also means that I insert myself in a lineage of paranoia and obsessional neurosis, but then again, as Guy Hocquenghem remarked, homosexuality itself is commonly associated with paranoid persecution mania, 77 “the apparition of the word curiously drives a cascade of lapses, or at least of the interpretation of common words as lapses. There is no innocent or objective position toward homosexuality, there are no situations of desire in which homosexuality doesn’t play a role.” 78 So why would I pretend otherwise? As Ronell adds, and I should have warned you before, “neologisms are much more common in persecution mania patients than in others.” 79 In recognition of what composes philosophy always remains in circulation, no matter whether approached from an “ontological” or “linguistic” perspective, no matter how “meta” the separation machinery drives us, it is circulation itself that justifies the term, if it is one, cumposition . In naming the decentering force of philosophical discourse thus, I not only intend to stress the “with” ( cum ) of the philosophical sum-plok? or com-positio , that is present in it already since Plato, 80 but also the position of philosophy itself, whenever it will have arrived or cum, shooting for the stars of wisdom on the metaphysical firmament. NOTES 1. A. Staley Groves, Poetry Vocare (The Hague/Tirana: Uitgeverij, 2011), 86. 2.Walter Benjamin, “On Language As Such and the Language of Man.” trans. Edmund Jephcott, in Select Writings. vol. 1, 1913-1926 , eds. Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004), 73. 3.Arist. DI 16a1. 4.If only because already the translational issues with these two words are in themselves breaching the constraints of sound definition. 5.Giorgio Agamben’s work has focused extensively on this mode, see for example Potentialities , trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), 234-5. 6.Walter Benjamin, ‘On Language As Such…,’ 73. 7.This is not to say that philosophy only resides in certain language games, as Wittgenstein would have it, but that negotiating the limits of those games—which, etymologically speaking, already carries in it the “com-” of philosophy’s “composition” as the morpheme “ga-,” cf. Gothic gaman , ‘participation’ or ‘communion’—determines to a large extent how much liberty philosophy is willing to grant itself in placing certain truths inside or outside its domains. 8.Avital Ronell, Fighting Theory , trans. Catherine Porter (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010), 1. 9.Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason , trans./eds Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 99 (Aviii). 10.Immanuel Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics , trans./ed. Gary Hatfield (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 143 (Bxv). Cf. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 109 (Bxv). 11.Ronell, Fighting Theory , 2. 12.Martin Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics , trans. Gregory Fried and Richard Polt (New Haven: Yale University Press), 65. 13.Giorgio Agamben, “The Passion of Facticity,”in Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy , trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen, 202. 14.Ibid. 196. 15.Ibid. 203-4. 16.Plat. Sym . 202e. 17.Plat. Sym . 203a. Philosophy as the love of wisdom is therefore recursively defined. Here we could perhaps trace one of the origins of philosophy’s auto-immunity that Ronell has commented upon on several occasions. She signals the so-called “end of philosophy” as one of the tropes characterizing the developing auto-immunity in the body of philosophy, and while at the same distancing herself from this trope she insists that we “continue to interrogate the figures used to designate the end, and to recognize the difference among such terms as closure, finality, terminus.” (Ronell, Fighting Theory , 3) 18.Plat. Sym . 201d. 19.Ibid. 206a. 20.Martin Heidegger, The Essence of Truth , trans. Ted Sader (New York: Continuum, 2002), 48. 21.Plat. Phaed . 244a. 22.Michel Foucault, The Use of Pleasure, The History of Sexuality, vol. 2 , trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage Books, 1990), 235. 23.Christopher Fynsk, The Claim of Language: A Case for the Humanities (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004), 65. 24.Jean-François Lyotard, Libidinal Economy , trans. Iain Hamilton Grant (New York: Continuum, 2004), 13. 25.Ibid. 13. 26.Alain Badiou, Being and Event , trans. Oliver Feltham (New York: Continuum, 2006), 3. 27.That is, the Zermelo-Fraenkel axiomatization, explicitly including the axiom of separation which does not allow for any inconsistent multiplicity, i.e. the appearance of the event. Nevertheless, ever since Richard Montague’s dissertation Contributions to the Axiomatic Foundations of Set Theory (Berkeley: University of California, 1957), we know that set theory can never be finitely axiomatized. 28.Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei and John Van Houdt, “Circulating Philosophy: A Note on Two Apparent Misquotations in Alain Badiou’s Logics of Worlds,” Theory and Event 14.2 (2011). 29.Alain Badiou, Conditions , trans. Steven Corcoran (New York: Continuum, 2008), 290, fn. 4. 30.Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, Événement et répétition (Auch: Tristram, 2004), 208. 31.Ibid. 209. 32.Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, L’affect (Auch: Tristram, 2004), 93. 33.Jacques Derrida, Edmund Husserl’s ‘Origin of Symmetry’: An Introduction , trans. John P. Leavey, Jr. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989), 127. 34.Jacques Derrida, “Form and Meaning: A Note on the Phenomenology of Language,” Margins of Philosophy , trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 157. 35.Derrida, Ibid. 172-3. 36.Or, if you like, the “false truth.” See for an indictment of etymology along these lines Jean Paulhan, La preuve par l’étymologie (Paris: Minuit, 1953). 37.Alain Badiou, Manifesto for Philosophy , trans. Norman Madarasz (Albany: SUNY Press, 1999), 57. 38.Ibid. 57. 39.Walter Benjamin, “The Destructive Character,” Selected Writings, Vol. II.2, 1931-1934 , trans. Edmund Jephcott (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), 541-2. 40.Lyotard, Libidinal Economy , 135. 41.“In signifying the metaphorical process, the paradigms of coin, of metal, silver and gold, have imposed themselves with remarkable insistence. Before metaphor—and effect of language—could find its metaphor in an economic effect, a more general analogy had to organize the exchanges between the two 'regions.'’ Jacques Derrida, “White Mythology: Metaphor in the Text of Philosophy,” Margins of Philosophy , trans. Alan Bass, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), 1982, 216. 42.Ibid. 257. 43.“The exchangeability of all products, activities and relations with a third, objective entity which can be re-exchanged for everything without distinction—that is, the development of exchange values (and of money relations) is identical with universal venality, corruption. Universal prostitution appears as a necessary phase in the development of the social character of personal talents, capacities, abilities, activities. More politely expressed: the universal relation of utility and use.” Karl Marx, Grundrisse: Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy , trans. Martin Nicolaus, New York: Random House, 1973, 163. 44.Karl Marx, “Private Property and Communism,” Karl Marx Selected Writings , ed. David McLellan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 90. 45.Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project , trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), 347. 46.Ibid. 256. 47.Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal , (Paris: Le Livre de Poche, 1999), 161. 48.For example, Jean Pierre Brisset, Le grammaire logique, suivi de La science de Dieu . Paris: Tchou, 1970, pp. 155ff. But we could equally point to the work of Jacques Lacan or refer to the intimacies between sexual and ontological differentiation as investigated by Jacques Derrida. 49.Pierre Guyotat, “L’autre scène,” Vivre (Paris: Denoël, 2003), 45. 50.Alain Badiou, Logics of Worlds: Being and Event 2 , trans. Alberto Toscano (New York: Continuum), 76. 51.Alain Badiou “Guyotat, prince de la prose,” unpublished lecture (Paris: 21 October, 2005), n.p. 52.Ibid. 53.Lyotard, Libidinal Economy , 109. 54.Ibid. 110-1. Lyotard formulates a position here parallel to Lacan’s analysis, which argues that the slave “can accept to work for the master and give up jouissance in the meantime.” (Jacques Lacan, Écrits , trans. Bruce Fink, New York: W.W. Norton, 2006, 259) This renunciation of jouissance founds the obsessive subject that I will discuss below, in an extension of the prostitutional logic developed by Lyotard. 55.Pierre Guyotat, “Langage du corps,” Vivre (Paris: Denoël, 2003), 24. Translation quoted from Lyotard, Libidinal Economy , 139. 56.Lyotard, Libidinal Economy , 139. 57.Pierre Guyotat, Prostitution (Paris: Gallimard, 1975), 90-1. In relation to his work we would also do well to recall the Lacanian dictum that “Punctuation, once inserted, establishes the meaning.” (Lacan, Écrits , 258) 58.Benjamin, “On Language As Such…,” 68. 59.Jacques Derrida, “ Geschlecht 1: Sexual Difference, Ontological Difference,” trans. Ruben Bevezdivin and Elizabeth Rottenberg, in Psyche, vol. 2 , eds Peggy Kamuf and Elizabeth Rottenberg (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008), 8. 60.Anne Dufourmentelle, Blind Date: Sex and Philosophy , trans. Catherine Porter (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007), 56. 61.Ibid. 57. 62.Ibid., 101. 63.Avital Ronell, “The Stealth Pulse of Philosophy,” introduction to Anne Dufourmentelle, Blind Date: sex and philosophy , trans. Catherine Porter (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007), xv. 64.Julia Kristeva, Le soleil noir: Dépression et mé?ancholie (Paris, Gallimard, 1987), 45. 65.Arist. DI 16b20. 66.Alain Badiou, Logics of Worlds: Being and Event 2 , trans. Alberto Toscano (New York: Continuum), 545. 67.Avital Ronell, “The Sujet Suppositaire: Freud, And/Or, the Obsessional Neurotic Style (Maybe),” Finitude’s Score: Essays for the End of the Millennium (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998), 108. Cf. also: “As mere reversal, this maintains the 'intervention' of which Lacan speaks in its classic column, still following the marching orders and route traced out by the commanding symbolicity of male homosexuality whose structures, in place since the time of Plato, continue to assure the paradigm of the transmission of knowledge.” (Ibid., p. 106) 68.“The anus can be said to mark a locus of privileged transaction between at least two gendered entities. It organizes a space from which rental agreements are negotiated, leases are taken out by one gender to permit the other gender provisionally—depending on the terms of the agreement—to occupy its space. The other of genital sexuality, determinable neither as masculine nor strictly speaking as feminine, anality nonetheless constitutes a sexuality, a shared space that is often vaginized.” (Ronell, “The Sujet Suppositaire,” 108) One could, and perhaps ought, to read Guyotat’s Prostitution , as exactly a constant negotiation of this sort, where language itself succumbs to this logic of “indefensible copulations.” (Ibid., 110) 69.Ronell, “The Sujet Suppositaire,” 110. 70.Arist. Cat . 1a12-15. 71.Cf. Pierre Aubenque, Le problème de l’être chez Aristote (Paris: PUF, 1962), 184, fn. 3. 72.See Rhet . 1357b26-30 and APr 69a13-16. 73.Giorgio Agamben, The Signature of All Things: On Method , trans. Luca D’Isanto with Kevin Attell (New York: Zone Books, 2009), 19. 74.Lacan, Écrits , 415. A similar idea, originating from a different perspective, but with a similar foundation in Aristotle, can be found in the work of Paul de Man: “The convergence of sound and meaning […] is a rhetorical rather than aesthetic function of language, an identifiable trope (paronomasis) that operates on the level of the signifier.” (Paul de Man, Resistance to Theory , Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1986, 10) 75.Lacan, Écrits , 756. 76.Ibid., 758. 77.“Psychiatry supposes in general an intimate relation between homosexuality and paranoia, but gives it often the following form: the homosexual frequently suffers from persecution paranoia.” (Guy Hocquenghem, Le désir homosexuel , Paris: Fayard, 2000, 32) 78.Ibid., 59. 79.Ronell, “The Sujet Suppositaire,” 117. 80.See Plat. Soph . 262c. (shrink)
continent. 1.2 (2011): 129-135. Introduction Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei Successions of words are so agreeable. It is about this. —Gertrude Stein Nachoem Wijnberg (1961) is a Dutch poet and novelist. He also a professor of cultural entrepreneurship and management at the Business School of the University of Amsterdam. Since 1989, he has published thirteen volumes of poetry and four novels, which, in my opinion mark a high point in Dutch contemporary literature. His novels even more than his poetry (...) are criticized for being inaccessible, which I generally take to be a compliment. It would be like saying that Fernando Pessoa is inaccessible, which he is not. Neither is Wijnberg. When we think of the combination economist-poet we are immediately reminded of the American poet Wallace Stevens, who, as the story goes, had two stacks of paper on his desk, one for contracts, one for poems. We also know that Stevens wrote on the economy and that questions of economy and insurance surface at multiple points in his poems. The following text is a very preliminary attempt to point at the intersections between poems, novels, business, and poetry in Wijnberg’s work. On the back cover of his novel De opvolging ( The Succession , 2005), Wijnberg states the following: “[This is] a novel for whomever is interested in the workings of a company as much as in the workings of a poem.” Wijnberg thus claims that the way in which a company “works” may be similar to the way in which a poem “works.” The question is the obvious one, what does this similarity consist in? De opvolging tells the story of company in which bosses and company doctors, secretaries, children, clowns, and beggars have tons of meetings, recite poems, perform plays, tell jokes, and succeed each other, climbing up and down in the company’s hierarchy. De opvolging is a novel in which the career of people follows the career of words. It resonates with Gertrude Stein's sentences, "Grammar. What is it. Who was it" (1975, 50). The words in Wijnberg's poems are like he characters in his novel. And if we keep in mind this allegorical reading of De opvolging , which is obviously only one of the possible readings, we may be able to understand some aspects of Wijnberg’s poetry. A repetition is already a pun. Look, that word is trying it again, as if it is afraid that by not doing it it would give up the hope that it will ever be able to do something. A pun is the opposite of the first word coming to the mind of someone who shouts it when he suddenly discovers something. (104) The repetition, the succession of the same word, is already a pun, a joke. The succession of the father by the son after the revolution is a joke. "Look he's trying it again!" The essence of a joke is a repetition. Archimedes’ “Eureka!” is its opposite. Poems can easily become jokes, depending on the way the words follow and repeat each other. In De opvolging , the careers of the bosses, good and bad secretaries, and company doctors easily become jokes, as they are “afraid that by not doing it [they] would give up the hope that [they] will ever be able to do something.” Not only the repetition, but also the distance and difference between the words in a poem, their cause and effect relations can be read as company relations. This becomes clear when we, for example, read the first lines of the poem “Cause, sign” from Het leven van ( The Life Of , 2009). A sign lets know what is going to happen, a cause lets it happen. If the sign also lets happen there is no reason to isolate it, because then I would isolate some- thing only because it’s different for me. If I didn’t have to write this myself, but would have secretaries to whom I could dictate it, I would be able to say more about it. (49) Upon reading the first two lines we can already conclude that any word may be cause or sign or both. If a sign is also a cause there is no reason to discriminate it, yet to the poet they are still different. This difference only becomes expressible the moment he would have a secretary. Just like in De opvolging , the secretary introduces a distance; not in a company but in a poem. Hence the difference between “good” and “bad” secretaries in a company, where the good secretary of one boss may be the bad secretary of another one. The more we can say about the bosses of the company, or signifiers of the poem, the greater the distance we introduce between them and us. We should take serious the relation between Wijnberg’s novels and poems. Although they operate on different scales, they explain and converse with each other. Another example may be the novel Politiek en liefde ( Politics and Love , 2002), which deals with the relation, precisely, between politics and love. In the novel, Nicolai, a lieutenant in the Dutch army, is sent to Africa on a military mission. Upon leaving a receives a letter from his father. Dear son, Don’t do anything stupid before your father has advised you to do so. Your mother asked me to write a wise letter. I have been looking for wisdom for half a day and haven’t found much. If you borrow a small amount from a bank you become the bank’s slave, but if you borrow a couple of millions and spend them as quickly as possible the bank becomes your slave. What I want to say is that you have to return from Africa in good health, and before you know it the world will be your slave [....] Signed with a kiss from your father. (88) The line, “If you borrow a small amount from a bank you become the bank’s slave, but if you borrow a couple of millions and spend them as quickly as possible the bank becomes your slave,” returns as the title of poem in Het leven van: “If I borrow enough money the bank becomes my slave” (12-3), which elaborates this theme. So both in the way that these poems are structured and in their subject matter, they refer to the structures of our economy, to the ever-continuing line of CEOs succeeding each other like words, to the distance between them introduced by bureaucracy, and giving and receiving as economical and poetical acts. Poem and economy map onto each other, as in another episode from De opvolging : Edward reads two of the beggar’s poems about presents. Of a holiday nothing remains, except for memories, and if some of them are bad I’d rather forget them all; if I get a present I’d rather get something that’s useful to me for a long time. If I may choose, I choose what I can use longest, long enough to partially forget that this was the present, because it feels bad when nothing is left of it. […] Giving away becomes destruction in the stock destruction economy [ voorraadvernie -tigings-economie ], that is a gift economy [ geschenkeneconomie ], encountering for the first time an economy in which there’s selling and buying on markets. Instead of destroying supplies someone can also quickly say that they aren’t worth anything anymore; if someone wants to take them I’d gladly give him something extra. In a stock destruction economy he is someone who each day wants to work more hours than his colleagues. If around a company there is a gift economy in which someone’s rank is determined and made visible by the gifts someone can give someone else, a company will be more often character- ized by an invisible or unclear system of ranks. (152) Two poems about gifts present two different economical models, described by Wijnberg with the terms “stock destruction economy” and “gift economy.” Here we immediately recall the opposition introduced by George Bataille’s work on the concept of expenditure in The Accursed Share , where a “general economy” would surpass the stock destruction economy based on scarcity (capitalism) and become a gift economy (potlatch) and an egalitarian (communist) society. These claims are made both on the level of the poems and in their discursive explanation. They follow each other and on each other. I would like to finish this introduction to Wijnberg’s writing with a translation from his novel De joden ( The Jews , 1999), which develops the story of Hitler abdicating as chancellor of the Third Reich, appointing philosopher Martin Heidegger as his successor. In a conversation with two Russian actor-spies, sent by Stalin to figure out the situation, philosopher Walter Benjamin describes the abdication scene. Maimon: You were there when Hitler resigned? Benjamin: In the room we’re right now. The desk and the chairs are new. After his resignation Hitler would like to take his furniture to his new house. Martin naturally agrees. It is a sunny day. Martin is very nervous and complains about the heat. Martin is wearing his best dark blue suit, not his professor’s robe. Hitler is wearing his uniform. We enter the room and Hitler gets up and embraces Martin. Martin is not very good at embracing. Hitler shakes his hand. Hitler’s cap is on the desk. The cap has a metal lining. Hitler has strong neck muscles. Hitler says: A man is unclean. He takes a bath. Does he make the bath water unclean? I say: a man is unclean. He steps into a river. A little further a man steps into the river; does he become unclean? Hitler nods. I say: a man is standing in music. Another man hears the music but also sees the first man moving on the beat of the music in a way that he is certain that the music would excite different feelings in him if he wouldn’t to see the first man. Hitler says: a man is clean, listens to music, is suddenly touched and he doesn’t know by what. The conversation ends in the way you know it ends. Hitler picks up his cap from the desk and puts it on Martin’s head. (73-4) Aware of the never ending debate on the question of Heidegger’s involvement in the Nazi regime, Wijnberg has the audacity to present the arguments of complicity in the religious terminology of cleanliness and uncleanliness, while at the same time recalling overtones of Hitler’s supposed love for Wagner, suggesting a relation between Benjamin and Hitler, and so on. The space of this introduction is to small to treat a novel like De joden , a reading of which together with passages from Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe's Heidegger, Art, and Politics: The Fiction of the Political , Jacques Derrida's Of Spirit , Christopher Fynsk's Heidegger: Thought and Historicity , and Avital Ronell's The Telephone Book would be extremely elucidating and potentially open new avenues in thinking Heidegger's emphasis on poetry after the fall of the Nazi empire. But at this point we will have to curb our curiosity and follow the poet himself. The themes of the relation between business and poetry, but also Chinese landscape painting, love, Indian and Japanese poetry, and Western philosophy are analyzed and assimilated in Wijnberg’s work without ever losing the clarity of expression. It may be that, according to Alain Badiou, the “Age of the Poets” is over, but its end (Paul Celan) has exactly brought a new balance between philosophy and poetry, and it is this playful, but nonetheless serious balance that makes one hope that one day Wijnberg’s complete oeuvre might become available to readers across the planet. Tiranë, Albania February 15, 2011 English translations (all of them translated by David Colmer, who is preparing an English collection of Wijnberg’s poems entitled Advanced Payment ): Poetry International Words Without Borders Green Integer Review from Het leven van ( The Life of ) THE LIFE OF KANT, OF HEGEL As if every day he takes a decision that is as good as when he’d been able to think about it all his life. The life of Kant, of Hegel, the days of the life of, select three or four of them. Tell what he has discovered during those days as if he were the last one who knew so little. Give me something that I can cancel against then I can prepare myself for it. The reward is that I may continue with what I’m doing, it doesn’t matter how long it takes. This has nothing to do with everything remaining the same if I say that I no longer want anything else. I wouldn’t be able to say in which one and the other occur in a way that I if I knew something to cancel that one against it wouldn’t be possible now. The stars above my head and being able to say what belongs to what if I’ve let them in. FOLLOWING MY HEART WITHOUT BREAKING THE RULES Observing the rules without observing the rules by going where the rules no longer apply. I could also observe the rules there by applying them to what at great distance may resemble what the rules are about. But why would I do that, not to confuse someone who is seeing me from a great distance? Behind this morning the morning prepares itself when the rules are everything I have. IF I BORROW ENOUGH MONEY THE BANK BECOMES MY SLAVE A bank lends me money, if I don’t pay it back they tell my boss that he has to pay them my salary. But they have to leave me enough to eat and sleep and an umbrella when it’s raining. They can also empty my house, the furniture isn’t worth a lot, but every little helps. Each morning I leave for work, if I don’t start early they’ll soon get someone else, no bank will lend me money when the sun is shining. My boss has given me a cat to raise as a dog. Of course I know that it won’t work out, but I’ve asked for a week—maybe the cat gets lucky, maybe I get lucky. My hands around a cup of coffee, before I leave for work, warm-empty, cold-empty, as if hidden in the mist over a lawn. What I make when there’s no work left for me, I’m ashamed to say how little it is. Once I’m outside I check it, if they watch out of the window they can see me doing it. Suppose it is so much that I’d stay counting for hours, it’s getting dark and I’m still there. They stay watching for a while once they’ve finished their work, but have to go home, I get that, sure, I could also go home and continue counting there. If it’s too little running back immediately won’t help, because nobody’s there anymore, and if I come back tomorrow I may have spent what’s missing tonight. Going somewhere where it’s warm enough to walk around without clothes during daytime, it helps me to know that something’s more there than here. For someone like me there’s work anywhere, it shouldn’t take a week to find work for me there. Three times work and a home close to work, I may choose one and try for a week whether I want to stay there. If at the end of the week I don’t want to stay I’m back on the next day, then it was a week’s holiday. RULES If that’s against a rule, it’s yet another one that I cannot observe, or only so briefly that I cannot re- member it later. Anyways the rules are only there to help me remember what I need in order to do better what I do. In that respect there’s no difference between the rules that I find in a book and the rules that I think of early in the morning. I know that because I’ve made a rule just now nothing has yet to observe it. CAUSE, SIGN A sign lets know what is going to happen, a cause lets it happen. If the sign also lets happen there is no reason to isolate it, because then I would isolate something only because it’s different for me. If I didn’t have to write this down myself, but would have secretaries to whom I could dictate it, I could to say more about it. If something is taken away from me I consider how it would be if the opposite had been taken from me. That is what causes or signifies what is farthest away from what is caused or signified by what has been taken away from me. note: For the translations of “The life of Kant, of Hegel” and “If I borrow enough money the bank becomes my slave” I was able to consult David Colmer’s wonderful translations. (shrink)
continent. 1.4 (2011): 242—252. Introduction The following two works were produced by visual artist Jonas Staal and writer Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei during a visit as artists in residence at The Bag Factory, Johannesburg, South Africa during the summer of 2010. Both works were produced in situ and comprised in both cases a public intervention conceived by Staal and a textual work conceived by Van Gerven Oei. It was their aim, in both cases, to produce complementary works that (...) could be read “through each other,” in which the movement of artistic construction would be imitated by textual deconstruction and vice versa. Both works deal with the way in which capital, apartheid, and monumentality are interwoven in South-African society. The Missing Link addresses a monument for democracy, erected on the premises of a private corporation running both an amusement park and the Apartheid Museum franchise. The textual intervention accompanying this public intervention investigates the limits of the inclusiveness of the anti-discrimination section in the South-African constitution, itself a monumental work of democracy. The Monument for the Distribution of Wealth deals with the history and eventual dissolution of a monumental square, commemorating the Soweto Uprising, in one of the poorest townships of Johannesburg. The history accompanying this public dismemberment of memory is equally fragmented, which is expressed by the many voices recounting uncertain and perhaps even irrelevant “facts” about the genius loci, the way in which the memorial space has actually entered into the memory of the inhabitants surrounding it. Next to their individual practices, Staal and Van Gerven Oei have worked together on a number of projects ever since 2007, including several art residencies. Their work involves an investigation of the different interfaces between art, politics, and public space in media ranging from theater and public interventions, to video installations and (co-authored) textual works. The Missing Link Missing Link (1) Missing Link (2) Missing Link (3) Intervention on the monument entitled The Seven Pillars of the Constitution , part of the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Seven Pillars represent the constitutional values propagated in South Africa since the abolition of the apartheid regime. The monument and museum were built by the Gold Reef Resorts corporation, which is also responsible for the theme park and casino next to it. By placing the word “capitalism” on the wall surrounding the museum, the capitalist system and the constant social divisions that it implies are interpreted as sophistic continuations of apartheid politics. Through the capitalist system, apartheid is still operational within South African society. Whereas during the apartheid regime, the separation clearly ran along race divisions, in the current, “democratic” system, the same actual separation is sustained without it being an explicit element of the foundations of the country, i.e. the constitution. This intervention foregrounds the constant role of capitalism is both periods. At the same time the intervention acknowledges that contemporary Western artisthood is a mirror of the privileges that are offered by the capitalist system, and the type of artist that it produces. The intervention initiates a critical discourse concerning the capitalist system situated within the disaster of capitalism itself, in other words: through the desire to break with the presumption that art would be able to operate outside the capitalist system and to confirm that art—and the artist himself—is in fact modeled on this system. The public intervention by Staal was supplemented by a textual intervention by Van Gerven Oei: a proposition to alter the seventeenth amendment of the South African constitution. Even though the anti-discrimination legislation in South-Africa is one of the most stringent and inclusive in the world, one factor—wealth—remains outside its scope, thus continuing the schisms along racial lines produced during the apartheid regime: §9.3. The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language, birth, and wealth. Monument for the Distribution of Wealth Intervention concerning the June 16 Memorial Acre in Central Western Jabavu, one of the poorest townships of Johannesburg. The monument comprises a park on which different are placed recalling an important protest the black population against the former apartheid regime. In 1976, from a school adjacent to the park, they started a massive protest against the introduction of Afrikaans in the school curriculum. The police reacted violently, and shot several hundreds of students. The construction of the June 16 Memorial Acre was started in 2005, and from the start was the paragon of corruption. Coordinated by local politicians, some family members of the protest leader from 1976 gained control of the realization of the monument, outside the regulation through external institutions. The available budget of 41 million rand (at that time well over 5 million euro) was largely embezzled. In the meantime, the monument has become fully dilapidated and defaced. The park has become overgrown with weeds and covered in a layer of dirt, and the local population is slowly plundering the square to use the material for the construction and decoration of their own houses. The Monument for the Distribution of Wealth develops the dynamics already existent around the June 16 Memorial Acre. Without obtaining official permission in advance, several local inhabitants were hired to break down the monument, sort the materials, and offer it to the neighborhood. Thus, the redistribution of wealth after the fall of the apartheid regime is finally taking place, albeit from the mere remains of the capital that was once invested in the community. The words “monument” and “for free” are spray-painted on the stacks of material, both in English and Zulu, as these are locally the most common languages. Van Gerven Oei supplemented Staal’s public intervention with an account of the history of the monument based on a series of interviews. The account clarifies how the different interests within the protest 1976 are reflected in the exceeding decay of the park, and how in the end those interests were represented by the June 16 Memorial Acre. Monument for the Distribution of Wealth 1: Removing stones Monument for the Distribution of Wealth 3: Pulling down statues Monument for the Distribution of Wealth 4: Offering the material Monument for the Distribution of Wealth 5: Offering the material Monument for the Distribution of Wealth 6 The next day A Fragmentary History of the Monument for the Distribution of Wealth, Formerly Known as the June 16 Memorial Acre in Central Western Jabavu, Soweto Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei The following text, based on interviews and online research aims to provide parts of a history of the park in front of Morris Isaacson High School in Central Western Jabavu, Soweto. The idea for the transformation of the park into a memorial site has its source in the events of June 16, 1976: the start of the the student uprising in Soweto. The development of the park was started in the early 1980s, and the actual transformation into a memorial site, the June 16 Memorial Acre, was initiated in 2005. Over the last few years, several monumental additions have been made to the park: A marble monument with three pillars was revealed on June 16, 2006. A sculpture of a book and several billboards on June 16, 2008. A sculpture of student leader Tsietsi Mashinini on June 16, 2010. The park was transformed into the Monument for the Distribution of Wealth on August 3, 2010. According to the entry “Youth Struggle” on the website South African History Online, the Bantu Education Act was introduced in 1953 . In 1954 , Dr Verwoerd, Minister of Native Affairs, stated: “What is the use of teaching the Bantu child mathematics when it cannot use it in practice? That is quite absurd.” According to the entry “Soweto uprising” on Wikipedia, the Afrikaans Medium Decree was issued in 1974 , forcing all black schools to use Afrikaans and English in a 50-50 mix as languages of instruction. The Regional Director of Bantu Education (Northern Transvaal Region), J.G. Erasmus, told Circuit Inspectors and Principals of Schools that from January 1, 1975 , Afrikaans had to be used for mathematics, arithmetic, and social studies from standard five (7th grade). English would be the medium for general science and practical subjects. Indigenous languages would be used for religion instruction, music, and physical culture. According the entry “Soweto uprising” on Wikipedia, on April 30, 1976 , students from the Orlando West Junior School in Soweto went on strike, refusing to go to school. Their example was followed by other schools in Soweto. A student from Morris Isaacson High School, Toboho “Tsietsi” Mashinini, proposed a meeting on June 13, 1976 to discuss further action. According to Weizmann Hamilton’s article “The Soweto Uprising 1976,” which appeared in the September 1986 edition of Inqaba Ya Basebenzi (Fortress of the Revolution), on June 13, 1976 , the South African Students’ Movement called a meeting at the Donaldson Community Center in Orlando. 300-400 Students representing 55 schools decided to hold a mass demonstration on June 16. According to Brian Mokhele, member of the Joint Community Safety Forum, Dr Edelstein was the first victim of the Soweto uprising and killed the day before the march on June 15, 1976 . Edelstein was an administrator at the pass office in Jabavu and gave golf courses to the local community. Edelstein was put in a garbage bin and pierced by pickaxes. The garbage bin was left at the very spot of the murder for many years. A few years ago, a child was beheaded at the same spot, and the basketball court next to it has been abandoned since. According to Marcus Neustetter, founder of the Trinity Session, this story is untrue. According the entry “Soweto uprising” on Wikipedia, on June 16 , Tsietsi Mashinini led students from Morris Isaacson High School to join up with others who walked from Naledi High School. A crowd of between 3,000 and 10,000 eventually ended up near Orlando High School. According to Raymond Marlowe, a local photographer, Tsietsi Mashinini was heading the march. According to the entry “Hector Pieterson” on Wikipedia, Dr Edelstein died on June 16, 1976 , stoned to death by mob and left with a sign around his neck proclaiming “Beware Afrikaaners.” The first child to die that day was called Hastings Ndlovu. According to Pat Motsiri, Orlando West is claiming struggle heritage through the Hector Pieterson Museum, while Hector Pieterson was from Jabavu. According to Pat Motsiri, his generation effectively struggled between 1980 and 1991, forcing the release of Nelson Mandela and negotiations with the apartheid regime while the 1976-generation was safely in exile. Nevertheless, this has not been recognized in any monument. After the abolition of apartheid, the generation from 1976 returned from exile, occupied important government and ANC positions, creating an abundance of 1976 memorials and refusing to acknowledge that this was only possible because of the younger generation’s struggle. He calls this a generational conflict. According to Archibald Dlamini, the park officer responsible for the Memorial Acre, he started working for the municipality in 1978. In 1981/82 , Isaac Makhele from Pimville, who used to work in the cemetery business, was the first developer of the park. It used to be just a normal park until City Parks decided to develop the Memorial Acre in 2006. In 2007 the work was stopped by the community. According to Brian Mokhele, he left the country in 1989 after he participated in the riots of 1986. But when he returned in 1999 he found that nothing had changed. He says that they were promised to be protected by the Constitution, but that reality is different. The police uses fear to suppress them so that they don’t come out to talk openly. He has been arrested twice, both times harassed and tortured by the police, but in the end always released without indictment. He says that this is their way to threaten communities to back off from politics. According to Moses, who is sitting outside rolling a joint, Brian knows everything. He tells Brian to tell me everything he knows. According to Brian Mokhele, Tsietsi Mashinini was possibly murdered in 1990 during his exile in New York. Two weeks before he was supposed to return to South Africa, his papers in order, he was found dead under mysterious circumstances. His coffin was sealed when he was buried. According to Pat Motsiri, he came up with the idea for the Memorial Acre in 2003 . He submitted the documents for the proposal to the council, which sidelined him as soon as the budget came out in 2005 . According to Brian Mokhele, there was on estimation R 41,000,000 spent to redesign the park and turn it into the Memorial Acre. The millions were divided by Amos Masondo, the mayor of Soweto, the local councilor Bongani D. Zondi, and the director of the city of Johannesburg, Pat Lephunya. They were dividing the money between several contractors: Tsietsi Mashinini’s brothers were involved in the development of the park, they got the tender to do the green areas, the landscaping. Construction was done by other companies, some did the paving, the toilets, etc. EMBA, a private company appointed by the municipality was in control of the money flow, but the money was quickly gone. According to Raymond Marlowe, the contractor bought a BMW with the money. According to Archibald Dlamini, the Mashinini brothers got the tender, so the space would look more like the other places around in Soweto. It was agreed that after they were done, they would return the property to the municipality. They did whatever they could do. According to Mafaisa, a member of the Jabavu business community, he was one of the contractors for the landscaping and the pavement under Mpho Mashinini, one of the brothers. He says that I should contact Mavi for information on Mpho. According to Poi Stuurman, a local youth worker, Mafaisa is one of the guys who ran away with the money. According to Mavi, Mpho Mashinini was never a contractor. The contracts were organized by Sbu Butelezi, the former head of the Gauteng Department for Public Works. The June 16 Foundation and the Mashinini brothers will be the beneficiaries of the park when it is finished. According to Brian Mokhele, City Parks did not accept the Memorial Acre because it was not finished. The rest of the year, the unfinished park is not maintained, as should have happened. This was done deliberately so that in the end they can just clean the whole thing up and have a reason to redo the whole park. According to Brian Mokhele, the Mashinini brothers now work for the government. People that manipulate for money purposes always come from the government’s side. Because the park was left unfinished, the people from the neighborhood are taking away the stones to decorate their own homes with. According to Archibald Dlamini, because City Parks doesn’t accept responsibility of the park, he officially has nothing the guard, except for his cottage, which is municipal property. The thieves come at night and destroy the park, but he cannot do anything because he is sleeping. According to the website of the Thanda Foundation on June 16, 2006 a bronze statue of Hector Pieterson, the first child to die in the 1976 protests, made by Kobus Hattingh and Jacob Maponyane was unveiled in the Maponya Mall in Soweto. The statue is sculpted after the famous image shot by Sam Nzima of Mbuyisa Makhubo carrying the dead body of the boy. The sculpture was sponsored by the Thanda Foundation, founded by the Swedish entrepreneur Dan Olofsson and South-African entrepreneur Matthews Phosa. According to the official website of the City of Johannesburg, the Memorial Acre and Artwork were unveiled in 2006. According to a blog post on sowetouprisings.com, the Memorial Acre was still under development on July 24, 2006. According to Archibald Dlamini, City Parks only cleans up the park once a year just before the June 16 celebrations. Everybody is waiting for the Mashinini brothers to finish their job. The last time he talked with them was in 2007 . According to a sign on the school grounds of the Morris Isaacson High School, the June 16 Trail will be finished in 2008 . According to a blog post on sowetouprisings.com, the Memorial Acre contains another monument erected in Tsietsi’s honor. The monument was created as part of the Sunday Times Heritage Public Art program. Its physical form resembles a giant book which symbolizes the crisis in education experienced in 1976. On the face of the book is the map of the route taken by the students from Morris Isaacson High School in Central Western Jabavu to Phefeni Junior Secondary in Orlando West (currently the site of the Hector Pieterson Museum), while the back cover of the ‘book’ is inscribed with a tribute to Tsietsi Mashinini. The monument was revealed on June 16, 2008 . According to Marcus Neustetter, the billboards on the Memorial Acre were part of a school project realized in 2008. Following several workshops, the students from different high schools along the June 16 Trail were invited to work with artists on the billboards, while the neighborhood community was invited to watch the process during the festivities on June 15 and 16, 2008 . The billboards were supposed to be removed because of construction works on the Memorial Acre, which never ended up happening. According to Brian Mokhele, the former toilet facilities were converted into a house for the park officer. This park officer has been working for city parks for more than 12-15 years, but does nothing here, because the park, including the new toilet buildings, is not finished. The government is now moving around looking for people to take this job because they stopped it. They confronted everybody who was going in and chased them away. According to John, in 2009 , some girls, around 16 or 17 years old, were raped by four men who had been drinking in a local shebeen. When the bar quit they said that they would go home by car, but instead raped the girls on the Memorial Acre nearby. This happened in the unfinished toilets, because the doors couldn’t be closed. According to Brian Mokhele, there used to be some fences around the park because of the construction work that was eventually stopped, but these were also stolen. According to Archibald Dlamini, people from the neighborhood started about two and a half years ago, and the last piece was stolen near the end of 2009 . Sometimes he would catch someone with a roll of fence, and then use it for his own cottage. According to the official website of the City of Johannesburg, a statue of Tsietsi Mashinini by Johannes Pokhela was revealed on June 16, 2010 , “Youth Day.” According to Shirley Makutoane, deputy principal of Isaac Morrison High School, the statue of Tsietsi Mashinini, funded by the June 16 Foundation, has temporarily been placed within the school perimeter. The statue will be moved to the Memorial Acre when it will be finished, in 2011 . According to Brian Mokhele, beside the June 16 Foundation, there is also a June 16 Memorial Acre Foundation. Both foundations are quarreling about the money involved in the Memorial Acre project. Nobody knows who’s involved in them. According to Marcus Neustetter, the June 16 Foundation consists of people that were part of 1976 protest movement, local government officials, representatives of the Hector Pieterson Museum, and the council. According to students from the Isaac Morrison High School, the statue of Tsietsi Mashinini is on the school ground because on the Memorial Acre it would be vandalized by youths from White City, an adjacent neighborhood. Accorcing to Brian Mokhele, the statue of Tsietsi should eventually be mounted on the Memorial Acre. It is wrong that the statue is in the school at the moment, because it is not a public school. He wants the statues to depict the massiveness of the force that was coming into Soweto after the protests. According to Brian Mokhele, City Parks, City of Jo’burg, City Lights, and SAPS are making some sort of plan to take the plan back. They want to remove the trees from the Memorial Acre, and redesign the Memorial Acre into a relaxing park, without political content. They want to depoliticize the square. In doing so,they will have their own employment and not use local workforces. According to Brian Mokhele, the community wants to remove the monuments, amphitheater, and sculptures from the Memorial Acre because they do not resemble anything. The sculptures should be depicting the truth of what happened, because the Memorial Acre is a political heritage site. He wants to involve the people that actually participated in the struggle to make the monument so that everyone can enjoy it and get a better understanding of the struggle heritage. Therefore, he proposes collective ideology in which everyone has a say. This would prevent future vandalization of the monument. According to Pat Motsiri, the sculptures must depict the event around June 16, 1976. Like the story of Dr Edelstein, who was pierced by pickaxes, forced into a garbage bin and burned alive. According to Jonas Staal, the Memorial Acre should be destroyed, its elements stacked on pallets, thus forming the Monument for the Distribution of Wealth . According to Mafaisa, his men can do the work quickly. He has about twenty men working under him. (shrink)
Leitch speaks of his procedure with my work as employing an "abrupt asyndetic format" and as being "a metonymic montage in which themes and citations are playfully and copiously combined." One form of this playfulness is the panoply of figures he uses to describe me and my criticism. The need to use figures for this is interesting, as is their incoherence, though the figures can be shown to fall into a rough antithetical pattern. At one moment the deconstructive critic is (...) a fairy godmother able to turn the pumpkin of the Western tradition into a phantasmal coach. He is a magician or wizard who shows that things are not what they have seemed with the great texts of our tradition or who turns them into something other than what they have seemed solidly to be, pragmatic pumpkins, unequivocally there. At the next moment the deconstructer is a disco dancer, moving sideways in the "lateral dance of interpretation" . The more or less benign fairy godmother and dancer then turns into a "nihilistic magician - who dances demonically upon the broken and scattered fragments of the Western tradition." He becomes a ferocious shaman, "Ravening, raging, and uprooting that he may come/Into the desolation of reality" . He is "a bull-deconstructer loose in the china shop of Western tradition" . In the next moment the bull metamorphoses into a lamb, as Leitch realizes the conservative aspects of deconstruction, the way it claims to be rescuing and preserving aspects of our culture which have always been there, both in literary and philosophical works and in the techniques of interpreting them. The same point is made more sharply and critically by William E. Cain in another recent essay on my work . In the final paragraph of his essay, Leitch has fun inventing permutations of an image of sand in the salad from one of my essays. Will deconstruction sandblast the whole shebang, or will the alien grain of sand turn into a pearl of price? J. Hillis Miller is Frederick W. Hilles Professor of English at Yale. His previous contributions to Critical Inquiry are "Ariadne's Thread: Repetition and the Narrative Line" and "The Critic as Host". (shrink)
Miller undermines traditional ideas and beliefs about language, literature, truth, meaning, consciousness, and interpretation. In effect, he assumes the role of unrelenting destroyer—or nihilistic magician—who dances demonically upon the broken and scattered fragments of the Western tradition. Everything touched soon appears torn. Nothing is ever finally darned over, or choreographed for coherence, or foregrounded as magical illusion. Miller, the relentless rift-maker, refuses any apparent repair and rampages onward, dancing, spell-casting, destroying all. As though he were a wizard, he appears in (...) the guise of a bull-deconstructer loose in the china shop of Western tradition. Vincent B. Leitch, associate professor of English at Mercer University, is the editor of Robert Southwell's Marie Magdalens Funeral Teares and The Poetry of Estonia: Essays in Comparative Analysis. Sections of the present essay will appear in his The Poetics of Deconstruction, which offers a critical history and anatomy of deconstructive criticism. (shrink)