Co-author of Follow Us or Die —a collection of journal entries, manifestoes and even a play from people that would go on to massacre their fellow classates and students at their local schools—van Gerven Oei presents a critical analysis of Anders Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer.
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)
An important Belgian avant-garde poet, Daive's investigations alternate between poetry, narration and reflective prose. In addition to translations of Daive's poetry, van Gerven Oei offers a lush presentation of Daive's poetry and its relationship to the production-analysis of signification.
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)
continent. 2.1 (2012): 22–28. Jeroen Mettes burst onto the Dutch poetry scene twice. First, in 2005, when he became a strong presence on the nascent Dutch poetry blogosphere overnight as he embarked on his critical project Dichtersalfabet (Poet’s Alphabet). And again in 2011, when to great critical acclaim (and some bafflement) his complete writings were published – almost five years after his far too early death. 2005 was the year in which Dutch poetry blogging exploded. That year saw the foundation (...) of the influential, polemical, and populistically inclined weblog De Contrabas (The Double Bass), which became a strong force for internet poetry in Dutch in the years to follow. In the summer of that year, a lively debate raged in the aftermath of Bas Belleman’s article “ Doet poëzie er nu eindelijk toe ?” (“Does poetry finally matter now?”), on a blog specifically devoted to this question. Up to that point, the poetical debate in the Netherlands had largely been confined to literary reviews (which were often subsidized), having become mostly marginalized in more mainstream media, where poetry could be covered by only a small number of so-called authorities. As a result, literary debate had acquired a rather placid quality. Though a variety of camps with different aesthetics could be discerned, most poetical positions shared a general acceptance of poetry as a form of art somewhat apart from fundamental political concerns. Late modernists would pursue subtlety and density of reference. Others would insist poetry was best understood as a form of entertainment that should ideally be accessible and work well on the stage. Still others would insist that poetry is mostly a play with forms. Linguistically disruptive strategies were valued highly by some, but mostly for their aesthetic effect. Values of disinterested playfulness reigned supreme everywhere. Any idea that poetry could be a field in which one confronts politics and the world was decidedly marginal. This led to a climate in which most attempts at polemics were DOA, often based on far too superficial positioning and analysis. The greatest polemical debates were revolving around the question of whether poetry should be difficult or easy, with both camps defining their ideas of difficulty and accessibility in ways that were so utterly shallow as to make the entire point moot. Debates were performed, rather than engaged with. It was a postmodern hell of underarticulated poetics. Half-consciously, people were yearning for new forms of criticism that could put the oomph back into poetry. Weblogs provided for ways to explore debate directly outside of the clotted older channels of the reviews and the newspapers. Belleman’s essay and the resulting online activity had shown that there was a widespread eagerness to take poetry more seriously as a social art form. It was in this environment that Mettes started his remarkable project Dichtersalfabet . At that moment, Mettes was active mostly in academic circles, having become noted at Leiden University as a particularly gifted student of literary theory. Within the Netherlands, the field of literary theory has a very odd relationship to literature as it is practiced in the country. Academic theory tends to have a mostly international view and engage with international debates of cultural criticism, literary theory, and philosophy, with academics often publishing in English and attending conferences around the world. Literature itself however is much more concerned with domestic traditions. Consequently, in the Netherlands, there exists a language gap between academic theoretical practice (as it is studied in the literary theory departments) and literary practice (which, academically, gets studied in specialized departments of Dutch literature). The Dichtersalfabet can be seen as Mettes’s attempt to close this gap. It is also an attempt to bridge the divide between theory and practice, in which he could apply his theoretical knowledge in a very unorthodox and unacademic critical mode that moreover could reach far beyond the domain of conventional criticism. Mettes’s goal was to trace a diagonal through Dutch poetic culture, to “strangle” what he perceived to be its dominant oppressive traditions of agreeable irrelevance, in order to see whatever might be able to survive his critical assaults. But he could only do so by means of a very serious engagement with poetry itself. To this end, he would go systematically through the poetry bookshelf of the Verwijs bookshop (part of a mainstream chain of booksellers) in The Hague, buying one publication per blog item, starting from A and working his way through the alphabet, reading whatever he might encounter that way in the restaurant of the HEMA store (another big commercial chain in the country). He would subsequently write down his reading experiences, refraining however from trying to write a nuanced book review. Rather, he would write about anything that caught his attention and sparked his critical interest. This way of working would yield vast, at times somewhat rambling, dense, lively, and generally brilliant essays, in which he held no punches. He never hesitated to pull out his entire arsenal of concepts from the international theory traditions, while never degenerating into mere academic exercise and pointless intertextualities. The attempt was rather to live the poetry that he read, and to engage it with the full range of political, academic, cultural, and personal references that he had at his disposal—all that composed the individual named Jeroen Mettes as a reader. Often what he wrote would not be according to the standards of what we usually think of as a critical review of a book of poetry. Sometimes he would even be a little sloppy in his judgments of poets or representations of the books he read, for example by basing an entire essay on the blurb of a book rather than its poetry content. But what he did was always brilliant writing nonetheless—virtuoso riffs on poetic fragments randomly found within capitalist society, exposing an incisive and insistent poetical sensibility. Mettes read poetry for political reasons, to see whether poetry could offer him a way to deal with a political world he detested. The right-wing horrors of the Bush years, the Iraq war, and the turn of Dutch public opinion towards ever more conservative, narrow-minded, and xenophobic views alongside a complete failure of the political left to present any credible alternative, were weighing heavily on the times in which Mettes reported on his reading. Poetry was to measure this world, diagram it, to lay bare its inconsistencies and faults, to indicate where lines of flight might be found. Amid the ruins of a world wrecked by imperialist policies, corporate capitalism, and doctrinal neoliberalism it would have to show the possibility of a new community. And it was, through its rhythmical workings, to release the reading subject from his confinement to ideologically conditioned individuality and lead him into the immanent paradise of reading. The stakes were high. Much higher than anything Dutch poetry had seen for many years. Mettes’s blog was widely read from the start. His posts sparked lively debates. Some of these subsequently led to the publication of extensive essays on a few key poets in some literary journals, particularly Parmentier and the Flemish journal yang , for which Mettes would become a member of the editorial board, a few months after starting the Dichtersalfabet . This could have been the start of a brilliant career, but this was not to be. The initial manic energy that fueled the blog gradually subsided. The Alfabet was updated less and less regularly. Mettes sometimes just disappeared for many weeks, then suddenly returning with a brilliant essay. Until, on September 21, 2006, he posted his final blogpost, consisting of no text whatsoever. That night I learned from his mentor at Leiden University that he had committed suicide. Mettes and I had had some fruitful exchanges on poetry, rhythm, music, and form, mostly on the blogs, but also by email. Three weeks before his death was the last time I heard from him: a very sudden, uncharacteristically curt note saying “My old new sentence epic.” Attached to that message I found a DOC-file of a work so major that I felt intimidated. This was N30 , a text he had been working on for over five years. After his death, it took me a long time before I dared to read it in its entirety. In the meantime, the work of preparing the manuscript for publication was entrusted by his relatives to his colleagues at yang magazine. It took them a few years to brush up the text and to edit the Dichtersalfabet -blog (which, apart from the Alphabet project itself, incorporated many other fragments of political, polemical, and theoretical writing) into book form along with the essays. The result of this labor was finally published in 2011 as a two-book set, and Mettes burst onto the Dutch poetry scene for the second time. The work was widely reviewed, on blogs, in journals, magazines, and newspapers. Many critics who had not followed the blogs in 2005 showed themselves surprised, baffled even, by the intensity of Mettes’s critical writing. But for those who had read the blog, the main surprise was in the poetry. During Mettes’s lifetime, some of his poems had already been published in Parmentier . Although these were strong texts by themselves, in no way did they prepare readers for N30 . Nothing like it had been written in Dutch before. Instead, N30 explicitly follows the American tradition of Language Writing, directly referencing Ron Silliman and his concept of The New Sentence. However, it would seem that much of the poetical thinking around his use of this technique puts him closer to a writer such as Bruce Andrews. For Mettes, using non sequiturs as a unit of poetic construction was not only a way of reinventing formal textual construction, but it was another way of finding the fault lines in the social fabric. From the perspective of the Language tradition, one may put N30 somewhere between Silliman and Andrews. N30 shares an autobiographical element with Silliman’s New Sentence projects, and as in Andrews, there is a concern for mapping out social totality within text—what Mettes refers to as a “textual world civil war.” Again this shows a formal textual strategy for allowing the person “Jeroen Mettes” to be absorbed by the world, which here appears as a whirlwind of demotic and demonic chatter, full of violence, humor, intensity, beauty, disgust, sex, commerce, and strife. Influenced as it may by American precursors, Mettes’s tone and form end up quite different from his American counterparts, consistently referencing a world that is Dutch, all too Dutch, taking on the oppressive orderliness of Dutch society with its endemic penchant for consensus by introducing chaos into its daily life and laying bare its implicit aggressions. The work’s 31 chapters each have a different feel and rhythmical outline, but none of them follow a predetermined pattern. Rather, Mettes would consistently edit and reedit the text, randomly rewriting parts of it, as he explains in his poetical creed Politieke Poëzie (Political Poetry). N30 – referring to the 1999 antiglobalist protest in Seattle – was to be the first text of a trilogy. The work itself was written “in the mode of the present.” A second text was to be written in the mode of the future, and a third one, in the mode of the past, was going to be an epic poem about the Paris Commune, and to form an alternative poetic constitution for the European project. I still deeply regret that Jeroen Mettes never got to complete those projects, just as I would be very keen on knowing what he might have had to say about more recent political developments. Instead, in 2006, he remained stuck in the horrors of the present, that ended up consuming him completely. He left Dutch literature with some of its most piercing criticism and its most profoundly moving, exciting and powerful poetry. Excerpts from N30 Translated by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei from Jeroen Mettes. "N30." In N30+ . Amsterdam: De wereldbibliotheek, 2011. Published with permission of Uitgeverij Wereldbibliotheek, Amsterdam. Chapter 1 1999. A day is a space too. And another man, who had chained himself, had his ribs crushed, and a motor has driven over somebody’s legs. Dutch health care system spends ±145 million guilders per year on worriers. A spiderweb vibrates as I pass by. Randstad renovating. She slaps her bag against her ass: “Hurry up!” OPINION IS TRUE FRIENDSHIP Your skin. It doesn’t express anything. “But the use of the sword, that’s what I learned, and you’ll need nothing more for the moment.” Just try to interrogate a guy like that. Gullit in Sierra Leone. Codes silently lying all around. But that’s simply what belongs to “that it’s just allowed”: that sigh of “world” (a word expressing that the trees are now standing along the water like black men with white bags in their hair); that’s nothing else right? And you see how everything has to move, and first of all what cannot do so. Without Elysium and without savings, barbarians lashing out, horny for an enemy, staring across the water, staring into the air—staring to get out of it. “You’ve never showed me more than the mall,” she said. All those “dreams” in the end—and now? It was lying on the stairway, so I picked it up and took it upstairs. Chapter 3 “You know what?” Telecommunication. For love… I don’t really like that cheap cultural pessimism, but… The holy city is on pilgrimage in the earthly bodies of the faithful until the time of the heavenly kingdom has come. The end of an exhausting autumn day behind the computer, my eyes filled with tears of fatigue. KITCHEN / INSTALLATION / SPECIALIST. Network integration. In the sun, stretched out on a sheet. (…) I don’t believe what I’m reading, because I want to believe something else. An illusion? Suits me. There’s a variety of shapes and tastes… “So what?” you may think. 102 dalmatians can’t be wrong. But I want more, dear… A feel good movie. I’m smashing the burned body. So what? We continue to save the European civilization. What’s there to win? Plato with poets = Stalin without gulag? Ball against the crossbar. No wonder. She comes straight to her point. She’s standing in the kitchen eating an apple. (…) The godless Napoleon had used her as a stable and wanted to have her taken down. “Our” Rutger Hauer. Ready or not here I come. Psst… are you also wearing a string? Nobody understands our desire. Cliffs breaking the waves and shattering the sunset. I used to be a real romantic (as a poet). A typical fantasy used to be the one in which I brutally raped mother and daughter Seaver from the sitcom Growing Pains . Nevertheless you only contain bad words. Eyelashes. Automatic or manual? That your skin always in the afternoon. Integration. The air is empty. Too bad! Hand in hand on their lonely way. Alaska! Chapter 12 May 5, 2001 [10:00-10:30] A dust cloud on a hill. Globe. Indian (British) (tie) / pope. Damascus. Rape. We’re carrying the ayatollah’s portrait through the streets. At the moment the girl is mostly suede jacket with white ribbons on her sleeves. A small explosion flares up/impact. Camouflage. Close up. We’re analyzing the situation. He’s dead right? Dead dead. Dead. Everything without, these, and only with the body. Indices signal death. Dollar bills are printed in factories. Holes. Light patch. Globe in a box. Microphone. What’s the situation? Grey impact on a green hill (field?). The water is blue. He has no lips. Interns on the background with skirts that are too long. This is an example of a sonnet. An Islamic woman pushes against the door of an electronics shop. Arrows (percentages (prices)). Is this what awaits the American? Touch screen interface. The word, an island, can only be a sign in that situation. We pull up a chair, join in on the fun. On the shelves only books about computers. One glance in the distance is enough to lighten up a luna park in the distance. She’s really desperate, especially when she laughs. Click. Ah. Next. And now it’s raining, but that’s ok. Yellow stains sliding over the south. Shallow caves light: clothes, boots, electrical equipment. 45. 22:10. Nothing gives you the right to eat more than people starving to death. The Hague. Slam dunk. Traffic light. Two H’s, one L (standing for the L (little prick)). We’re happy to say something. Clouds, small suns, temperatures, cities. The truth is never an excuse. Yellow. Yellow. Green. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. Green. Green. Yellow. Will you email me? Skeleton: “No.” Ex-nerds in brand-new and brightly red sport cars. $$$. I love. Shihab. Hooves in the sand. Skinny senior with over-sized sunglasses; old jockey (cap, trophy) smiling in slow motion. And there I am again, flashback, crying with my head in between my hands. Sometimes I’ve got the feeling that cannibals. Eyes: blue. Cancer. Why would I wait until tomorrow? Golden beams protruding from the lifted/lit earth. May 5, 2001 [11:30-12:45] You’ll remember this for the rest of your life. Graphs, diagrams. Bu$ine$$. Blue shirt, white collar, no neck (porn star). A name lights up. I’m hysteric. Will you join us? Letters falling in their words. Fingers set up a tent and start to dance. Young entrepreneurs from poor neighborhoods (read: black) guided by Microsoft. Kinda makes me happy, that sort of kitsch. A sense of exhaustion/impotence to see anything but the present. (…) Wouldn’t you like to? Orange explosion in an industrial zone. YOU’RE DOING THIS FOR AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL. Would you. A familiar face. Clouds and blossom. Sunflowers. Supermodels. Mountainous area in a rectangle: shades of brown, from dark to beige, more green toward the south. Tents and next to them (it’s all a blur) people. Plane. Stadium. Geometrical block of people. No, I ain’t crying. I don’t speak no more. I just want. Quote + photo. (Positive:) screaming crowd. Three-piece suit, seen from the back, before entering the arena. On the back: “Daddy abused me.” Oh, bummer. State of emergency has been declared and everyone has to cooperate. She’s cut her wrists. What we do know (…) is that there’s never been a unique word, an imperative name, nor will there ever be. [Click here for work that suits you.] Barefooted children are watching it (coherent pieces revelation of what’s lying below). Who knows how she’s changed during those two years. “Everything used to be better” + sigh. And here we are. An empty field of parquet. A city lying behind it. Explosion. Blue. A rain drop falling in my coffee. May 5, 2001 [14:30-15:30] A young Arafat on video speaking with raised finger. “I’m calling from my convertible.” Names on walls, victims, numbers… Tourists. Yellow. Yellow. “Your own child! Really, what kind of human are you?” I don’t want to hear it no more. A woman jumping out of the water in a yellow bikini against a background of fireworks and the Cheops pyramid. Thy sorrow shall become good fortune, thy complaints laudation. All planets will float and wander. Wo die Welt zum Bild wird, kommt das System (…) zur Herrschaft. It is something, but is it? May 5, 2001 [18:30-19:00] Iris. Leaves. NASDAQ. Open / and white and. For the one who’s doing nothing, just waiting. (…) NO DEFEAT is made entirely up of defeat -- since / the world it opens is always a place / formerly / unsuspected. October 2002. “Jeroen, I’m leaving for the cemetery, byeeee.” The rise of the middle class. My entire oeuvre is an ode to the. My entire head is a fight against the. God always demands what you cannot sacrifice. You may take that the easy way, but… “The state hasn’t made us, but we make the state” (Hitler). A stork exits the elevator. Skeletons of. Moscow. Helsinki. Palermo. Paris. Chapter 30 Like your paradises: nothing. United Desire, as only remaining superpower. And even though the sea is now calmer and the wind is blowing pleasantly in my face… Heart! Who determines whether a tradition is “alive”? The yellow leaf or the white branch? Mars. This sentence is a typical example. Most Dutch people are happy. No consolation. When I see a girl sitting at a table with a book, a notepad, a pen, a bottle of mineral water, her hand writing in the light—then I consider that one thing. “Presents,” “poetry,” “classics.” We are what we cannot make from ourselves. “Left”: mendicant orders, missionaries. Saint-Just: “A republic is founded on the destruction of its enemies.” She crosses the street with a banana peel between her fingers. (…) We chose our own wardens, torturers, it was us who called all this insanity upon ourselves, we created this nightmare… But “no”? Girl (just like a beach ball) talking rapid Spanish (Portuguese?) in a mobile phone. Do I have a chance now that her boyfriend is getting bold? CLIO, horny bitch. What else do you want? An old woman, between the doors of the C1000, is suddenly unable to go on; her husband stretches out his hand, speaking a few encouraging words. Selection from. Der Führer schenkt den Jüden ein Stadt. How can it reach us if we haven’t been already reached somehow? It doesn’t “speak.” No problem. Each word she uses is a small miracle, as if she doesn’t belong to it, to language, but wanders around with a pocket light looking for the exit; she’s never desperate (maybe a little nervous), lighting up heavy words from the inside. But indeed, we’re free. But the predicate is not an attribute, but an event, and the subject is not a subject, but a shell. That’s why also samurai, knights, and warriors raised the blossom as emblem: they knew how to die. Locked up in a baby carriage with a McDonald’s balloon. Blue helicopter, the blue sky. Whether you want to refer? The point is. How / Motherfucker can I sing a sad song / When I remember Zion? You’ll feel so miserable and worthless that you think: “If only I were dead!,” or: “Just put an end to it!” “So you’re an economist?” Her card—two little birds building a nest, her handwriting shaking—is still on the mantelpiece. Guevara: “No, a communist.” A straw fire, such was our life: rapidly it flared up, rapidly it passed. I’m fleeing, coming from nowhere. (…) Eazy-E drinking coffee with the American president. If I’d scream, would that be an event? Drown it: the cleaner it will rise up from the depths. No! The night, so fast… As if there’s something opened up in that face. Come on, we may not curse life. He shows me his methadone: “If you drink that all at once, you’ll die instantly.” The last one dictates how we should behave to deserve happiness. One shine / above the earth. “I want to go to Bosnia,” I said bluntly. I don’t even know the name of the current mayor. Let’s despise our success! “There is no future; this is the future. Hope is a weakness that we've overcome. We have found happiness!” Sun. Sushi. Volvo. I feel like a bomb about to explode at any moment. Makes a difference for the reconstruction right? The decor moves forward. Daughter of Nereus, you nymphs of the sea, and you Thetis, you should have kept his tired head above the waves! Alas! This sentence has been written wearing a green cap. I receive my orders from the future. A frog jumps into it. Her husband has turned the Intifada, which he follows daily on CCN, into his hobby, “to forget that he doesn’t have his driver’s license yet." Suddenly the sun slides over the crosswalk. Her (his?) foot is playing with the slipper under the table. Is this how I’m writing this book now? I’m not a fellow man. I hate you and I want to hurt you. These are my people. Their screaming doesn’t rise above the constantly wailing sirens which we've learned to ignore. My whole body became warm and suddenly started to tremble. Unfortunate is he who is standing on the threshold of the most beautiful time, but awaits a better one. Arafat’s “removal” is contrary to American interests. Jeep drives into boy. What you can do alone, you should do alone. A food gift from the people of the United States of America. Two seagulls. [...]. (shrink)
continent. 2.1 (2012): 29–35. Translated by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei from Jeroen Mettes. "Politieke Poëzie: Enige aantekeningen, Poëtica bij N30 (versie 2006)." In Weerstandbeleid: Nieuwe kritiek . Amsterdam: De wereldbibliotheek, 2011. Published with permission of Uitgeverij Wereldbibliotheek, Amsterdam. L’égalité veut d’autres lois . —Eugène Pottier The modern poem does not have form but consistency (that is sensed), no content but a problem (that is developed). Consistency + problem = composition. The problem of modern poetry is capitalism. Capitalism—which (...) has no image: the unrepresentable Idea of “everything.” The problem is that a poem cannot be justified. There is no excuse for it. Political poetry— pure poetry—has to be problematic, though not in a mannerist way. Yes, its problem is first its own problem—poetry’s existence in the same world as the newspaper—but therefore also always everybody’s problem (the problem of any world at all). The cult of the sublime points at a suspect desire for transcendence, nostalgia for paradise lost (the womb?). Melancholia of the post-. But a problem neither sorrows nor mourns, it is alive, and the fact that it is alive is the problem—the problem for death (rigidity, the status quo). Our symbols and ideologies do not hide any god: symbolic = state; imaginary = human; real = money. Problem: the possibility of communal speech (poetry) in the absence of a “we.” Or: what is a “we” that is not a collective subject (or in any case is not a volonté générale )? What is a universal history that is not a History? This work was started in the shade of the anti-globalization protests at the end of November 1999. I considered N30 to be the closure of the nineties, of my adolescence, and of the a seemingly total extinction of social desire. From the beginning I was skeptical about the alterglobalization movement as the avant-garde of a new politics, but something was happening . Maybe this event did not show that, as the slogan would have it, “another world” is possible, but for me it indicated that such possibility was at least still possible. That naked possibility is carrying forward. And if the fundamental tone of this work sounds more desperate than utopian, this is not caused by the catastrophic sequence that since 1999 has plunged us ever deeper into the right-wing nightmare—a nightmare that this work also gives an account for—but because my hope as yet remains empty. Composition . Composition is no design, but the production of an autonomous block of affects (i.e. a POEM), rhythmically subtracted from the language of a community. A poem does something. Is something. New Sentence . Choosing the non sequitur as compositional unit has the advantage that an abstract composition is subjected to the stress of concrete, social references. Where there is a sentence, there is always a world. (This does not hold necessarily for words on their own.) And where sentences collide, something akin to a textual civil war takes place. It is not about “undermining” whatever, or de-scribing the raging global civil war, but about writing social (or even: ontological) antagonism -- including all its catastrophic and utopian possibilities. Minor resistance. Why would poetry be the no protest zone par excellence? It is nothing but protest, not simply qua “content,” but in its most fundamental essence: rhythm. Rhythm is resistance against language, time, and space, and the basis of (what we will continue to call) autonomy. Rhythm starts with the anti-rhythmic caesura as Hölderlin remarked about Sophocles, a disruption of the quotidian drone. The destruction of everything that is dead inside of us. The noise of the avant-garde has never been the representation of the noise of (post)modernity (from the television or shopping mall), but the sober noise of the systematic exchange of an unbearable worldview. The poet does not describe, but looks for a way out: There is a Grain of Sand in Lambeth that Satan cannot find Nor can his Watch Fiends find it, tis translucent & has many Angles But he who finds it will find Oothoons palace, for within Opening into Beulah every angle is a lovely heaven William Blake was not mad. And there has always been only one poetry: the poetry of paradise. The principle is that there is something in art (the essentially creative element) that is disgusted by that which, unlike art, does not aim for the supreme. Wonder is not supreme, tranquility is not supreme, beauty is not supreme. Even amusement is not supreme! The supreme is supremely open, “das Einfache,/ Das Schwer zu machen ist” 1 : paradise. That is abstract. Literally. For me it is not about a concrete imagination, an idyll or utopia. There is no doubt a need for that, but it is not so much the supposed lack of imagination or ideals (human rights are ideals), but a fundamental lack of desire (human rights are no desires) that we suffer from, and from which we do not need to remove Nietzsche’s label of “nihilism.” “We.” George Oppen: “ Of Being Numerous asks the question whether or not we can deal with humanity as something which actually exists.” What is less actual than humanity? Nowadays it appears as a lifeless ideology of cynical power politics. Or as what makes one think. It is a shame to be human. The event is the caesura that defines rhythm. Writing toward the event is not the description of the event, but marking an abstract and intense space in which the event may unfold and keep itself. It is a task. “Remember that thou blesseth the day on which I seized thee, because such is thy obligation.” The event is a contraction (or a series of contractions) with its own rhythm and unique qualities. It is more than an explosion or demonstration. But at the same time less. The endless repetition of images and stories in the media points to a fear for the indeterminate and indeterminable void of the event. In the end there is nothing to see. We do not live in disaster’s shade or miracle’s light, but rather in the rhythm, which is contracted time, having little to do with omnipresent representations. For this book I did not intend a rhythm of evental representations (a narrative rhythm), but a rhythm which would be an event itself , because it draws the border between artwork and history. My desire for a direct engagement with the “extra-textual reality” has nothing to do with the representation of “rumor in the streets.” (What has less street cred than representation?) Naturally, a poem is no historical event and does not change anything. But a poem is a part of history that wants to be repeated forever, constructed in such a way that it is worthy of repetition. It is a part of desire (composition) made consistent (durable). The “historical event” flares up and burns down, and has to burn down to be effective. The leftovers are images and stories (representations), History—no event. The artwork—that is the ambition— remains event (though monumental and inefficient/inoperable). (No wonder that a historical singularity, a revolution, reminds us of a work of art; the resurrection yearns for a judgment, an affirmation; everything depends on it.) Hence the title does not summarize the book, let alone contract its “content” into a quasi-transcendental signifier. The title is juxtaposed to the book, like everything else inside the book, and in that relation it precisely forms a part of it. The ideal work is an open whole, lacking nothing but to which everything may be added. I have been interested in this “everything,” the world, or as I said above: capitalism. “Everything” is not the space for “wonder”—a code word, a shibboleth for petty bourgeois imagination (I recognize myself in the strangest things, a speaking dog, a canal, a pond standing straight—oh my god). No. The world is a social world, not YOUR world, poet. Power is number one. I will call “Dutch,” or “shitty,” whatever denies this power. That hurts, but this pain is an expression of the desire in the world to write another world, or as Blanchot says, “the other of all worlds” 2 : the world. Not as what “is there,” but rather as that which urges for an escape from what “is.” This is a testament of how radical reality has become, for me—or rather, a writing body—in a having-been-written. I am not interested in the problem of “meaning” as misunderstood by literary scholarsi: “order” in “chaos,” “symbolization.” Bullshit. What is there, hop, hope, now: the meaning of the taste in my mouth. Bullshit. I am not interested in the frustration of interpretation; I am writing for readers who do not want to interpret. I do not know how many “professional readers” will hear the music of a paragraph like: Sun. Sushi. Volvo. I hope more than I would think. There is a suggestion (or rather, an actual production) of speed and infinitive owing to the absence of plosives, i.e. articulations such as /k/, /t/, or /p/. Can you hear the slick suaveness? Driving car dark, vocal chiaroscuro of the word “sushi.” The unstressed /i/ stands in the middle of dark vowels and thus acquires its own special out of focus , like a momentary flash or brilliance—an obscure light. It is not about recognizing a story, but about avoiding any story whatsoever: the car disappears in the glow, cars and raw fish have nothing in common except their articulation in a language that brings them together, blurring them. A world appears in its disappearance. For a moment, light is a metaphor for language, though it cannot be reduced to tenor. It is not necessary to be a linguist or philosopher to hear this—a “difficult” poem all too often becomes an allegory of its own impenetrable being-language. The only demand: leave your hermeneutical fetish at home. This was no interpretation. Most shit has been stolen etcetera. That is no longer interesting. You cannot shoot the body with information and let your lawyers reclaim the bullets. So every sentence has been stolen. Also the ones “out” “of” “my” “head.” Why would I be allowed to steal from myself and not from others? Man takes what he needs to move forward. Whatever he encounters, finds in front of him, “occurs” to him. The writer as text editor, or singing pirate. Nothing new here. Important difference with for example Sybren Polet’s 4 montage technique: anti-thematicism. Most of the time ferocious citation from whatever I was reading, listening to, ended up in, and so on. I wrote chapter 12 on my laptop while watching CNN. On the air instead of en plein air . I often employed search engines to generate material. Chapter 20 offers the purest example of this. Often I stop recognizing a particular citation after some time. It is not uncommon for a stolen sentence to conform itself to the paragraph in which it finds itself. Sometimes I nearly arbitrarily replace words. Arbitrariness as a guarantee for absolute democracy. It is a poetics of the non sequitur : a conclusion that does not follow from the premises, the strange element in the discourse. A discourse of strangers. No logical, narrative, thematic unity. There is unity in speed/flight. It has to be read linearly, but not necessarily (not preferably) from beginning to end. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but this line precedes every point. The middle, the acceleration, comes first. A point occurs where two lines cross. It has been written from up close, at the level of the tension between sentences. Nothing to be seen from a distance: no form except the exchange of form, no geometrical or mythical meaning. You have to get in, “groping toward a continuous present, a using everything a beginning again and again” (Stein). 5 In Dutch, experimental poetry has been mainly dense: a small rectangular form filled with a maximum amount of poetic possibility. But at the moment the poem starts to relax, the anecdotical content seems to increase. This is what is called “epic”: long, narrative. I believe that an epic is more than that, in fact something completely different. An epic is “a poem including history,” 6 a long poem tied up with the life of community, that as a whole does not need to be narrative. The American poets of the twentieth century (Pound, Williams, Zukofsky, Oppen, Olson, Silliman) have put the epic back on the map by interpreting the poem itself as a map, and writing it as navigation. They have invented the experimental epic, a genre that has generated little original following in “our” poetry. N30 is the middle part—“always start in the middle”—of a trilogy, the contours of which remain as of yet unclear, although each episode investigates one of the three “ecstasies of time”—past, present, future—concerning society X. N30 concerns itself with the PRESENT: not with the description of actual facts but of the rhythm and the intense depth in which facts appear to us. Where are we? We are camping in the desert. Sometimes we are looking at the stars. As opposed to maximum density and minimal tension (a characteristic of most (post-)experimental lyricism), I have sought a minimal density and maximum tension in this book, considered as a long non-narrative prose poem. On the one hand, the minimal density is obtained by the inherent formlessness of prose, on the other hand by the conscious refusal of any active (formal, non-rhythmic) synthesis: the poem tells nothing, shows nothing, has no theme. I did not seek maximum tension either by loading the quotidian with epiphanic radioactivity (“wonder,” confirmation from above), or by means of the intensity of the linguistic structure. I want an abstract tension, but social in its abstraction, in other words, not neutralized by and subjected to Form. Instead of form (transcendent): composition (immanent). The concept is series. Ideal: every unit is necessary for the efficacy of the others and the whole, their relation is purely linear, i.e. non-hierarchic, non-syllogistic, non-discursive, non-narrative. Sentence related to sentence like paragraph to paragraph and chapter to chapter; the whole means nothing and represents nothing. Inside the sentence: syntax (Chomsky’s tree, a type of parallel circuit), outside: parataxis (coordination, an asyntactic line through language and world). I consider duration—the energy of duration (rhythm)—to be the fundament of a poem, the temporal inclination to delimit a “space.” Being as consistency, its consistency. A spatial part of time is not merely a metaphor for an inevitable trajectory, an inescapable time, something like “our time.” Not merely—because rhythm comes from language and is not projected onto it; the poem derives from the world like a scent and a color and a life from a flower. A series, a sequence: nothing potential, but truly infinite—the movement of an infinitude. The infinite series = everything minus totality. That means that there is no container—no Form, no Self, no Image, no Structure, not even a Fragment—just “the prose of the world.” No representation, but also no staging of the impossibility of representation (the postmodern sublime). These are no fragments, no image of a fragmented world or personality, no cautious incantations around the Void. It does not exist. It is a movement. Buying bread, a flock of birds, a bomb falling—they do not depict or represent anything, not literally, not metaphorically. There is an Idea, which is however nothing more than a rhythm, in the same way that capitalism is nothing more than a pure function. Parataxis: the white space between two sentences stresses, which is nevertheless always there, also between words, even between letters: the out of focus of idle talk, the gutter, the irreducible Mallarméan mist which renders even the seemingly most transparent text legible. The white space suggests a neutral medium for free signification, a substance of language. A non sequitur is an element from a foreign discourse, which stresses the white space as space, and problematizes freedom for supra-sentential signification. I start by withdrawing material, leaving the initiative to the sentences. In general a word presupposes less often a discourse than a sentence. What discourse is presupposed by “dog”? We could think of several, but why would we? It is more probable that, when faced with the naked word, we think of its naked (dictionary) meaning, of its denotative signified. By means of two simple interventions we may also write the word as sentence: Dog. In no way this suggests the discourse from which this sentence originates, but in any case we’re presupposing one. This is shown by questions like: “Whose dog? Who’s a dog? What kind of dog?” Etc. (Sentences are question marks.) A sentence implies/is a microcosm—a subject, a verb, an object, and so on. Even an incomplete or ungrammatical sentence does so. My main fascination while writing this book is the worldly and social aspect of language, an aspect that often becomes invisible, or rather, transparent in narrativity—the stretching of sentences into stories. Narrativity organizes a new discourse and a new world, and places a sometimes all too dispersing relation of transparence in between. The conventional novel is the brothel of being. I do not intend to prohibit brothels, and I have certainly not intended to write an anti-novel (THIS IS A POEM), but I do consider narrativity (in general, in poetry, in the news, in daily life) to be ontologically secondary with regard to an immediate being in the world through sentences, also if the latter have been withdrawn from a narrative or otherwise externally structured discourse (which in that case would therefore be chronologically primary ). Naturally, two or more sentences are always in danger of telling stories or arguing, just like the world is always in danger of becoming an objective representation, facing us, strangers. That is why need to wage war—against representation and against the interface, against interaction. AGAINST THE “READER.” To the extent that a sentence is worldly, writing is a condensed global war, and in so far as there is ultimately only one world and one open continuum of languages, it is a global civil war. Nice subject for an epic. The elaboration of a singular problem—prose as the outside of poetry, the form of the novel as purely prosodic composition scheme—“expresses” the universal problem: capitalism as Idea of the world vs. poetry as language of an (im)possible community. The paragraphs are blocks of rhythmically contracted social material. By choosing the sentence as the basic compositional component, an abstract whole may contain social sounds, without telling a story or showing an image. Composition is subrepresentative —a rhythmic, passive synthesis, or rather: a synthesis of syntheses. I never write large blocks of prose in one sitting, because there is no obvious organizational vector —plot, theme, conscience—outside the inherent qualities of the material itself. Usually I write down one sentence, sometimes two, but rarely more than three. Those sentences are usually placed in the text which I am editing at the time. In fact, there is no original composition, new chapters split off from chapters which became too long during the editing process. (Revision mainly consists of adding and inserting, displacing and dividing; only during the last phase, when the text has gained enough consistency, there may be subtraction to tighten the composition; each chapter requires a season of daily revision). This constant revision, accompanied by a continuous influx of collective background noise (to speak with Van Bastelaere), 7 makes every chapter a block condensed (“historical” and “personal”) time. The block itself is a-personal and a-historic; it is ontologically autonomous. If there is such a thing as a spirit of the times, I do not try to offer an image of it, but rather to cancel something of it by erecting a monument of its own excrement within its own boundaries. Tuning and dis-tuning , “in de taal der neerslachtigen een eigen geluid doen klinken,” 8 in other words, desiring in an Elysian way. In this sense I have intended to be able to write a political poetry. The ultimate political poem is the epic, “the tale of the tribe.” I consider N30 to be a prolegomenon to a future epic (of which it in the end will form a part a structural moment, as introduction-in-the-middle), an extended pile on top of an epic as narrative, a question of the tribe and question of its history. I was burdened by too much satire, too much bullshit. But: satire willy-nilly = the only justifiable satire. Against the abstract universalism of the market (“globalism”): concrete disgust, a positive way of saying “No.” Moreover, disgust is a specifically total attitude, which ultimately concerns the world as a whole. I hate this or that, but I am disgusted by EVERYTHING (when I am disgusted), and so it appears that satire is in fact related to the epic, in so far as it concerns society, the cosmos, history. Maybe it is no coincidence that the Dutch literary canon knows no great poet of disgust; what could be more fearful to us than society, the cosmos, and history? The T-tendency (T from Tollens 9 ) clearly points into the direction of the small, friendly, ironic, melancholic, acquiescent, wondrous, and so on. The anti-political, anti-cosmic, anti-historical. (Why am I so philosophical? To scare away the Dutchies.) And most of all: the “poetical” (the pseudo-mysticism from the backyard). Yes, the N in N30 also stands for the Netherlands (just like 30 indicates the number of chapters). I was not in Seattle, I do not live in Iraq. But is not the whole world bleeding to death on Dutch paving stones? Let’s hope that we mowed away something with this total satire, also “in myself.” The arrogant stupidity that definitely thinks to know the essence of freedom (the free development of esthetic needs inside the void), that cannot take anything serious, only believes in the disciplined bestiality of the individual (“norms and values”) and the mere functioning of a social factory which finds no justification whatsoever outside its functioning (“get to work”)… Who knows. A certain aimed destruction leaves grooves and craters, mapping out a next adventure. Pound’s periplum : sailing while mapping the coasts. Immanent orientation. The terrain changes with the map, history changes with the poem. Maps never merely organize the chaos, transcendent schemes imposed on a formless Ding-an-sich . They organize from within, surfing. But they are most of all routes back into the chaos or forward to paradise (final identity of chaos and paradise; Schlegel: “ Nur diejenige Verworrenheit ist ein Chaos aus der eine Welt entspringen kann ”10). A poem is not only a piece of history, it is also a flight from history. Maps give chaos to the form of reality , open escape routes, break through representations, make us shivery and dazed. Paradise is immanent to a fleeting desire. History is the history of labor—this is Adam’s curse—and the poet works too: For to articulate sweet sounds together Is to work harder than all these, and yet Be thought an idler by the noisy set Of bankers, school masters, and clergymen The martyrs call the world 11 But: the poet works in paradise. The paradox of the artwork, the work that is no work, the piece of history that cannot be reduced to History—this is explained by The Space of Literature , a virtual space, an autonomous rhythm, not outside, but in the midst of the noise, a piece of paradise in hell, a postcard from the vale of tears addressed to paradise, to X. Political poetry means: a poetry that dares to think about itself, about its language and about its world and about the problematic relation between both, which is this relation as problem. A poetry that thinks at all, articulates its problem. It has nothing to do with journalism or morality or debate, let alone the law or the state. It has nothing to do with “criticism” if this means the replacement of incorrect representations by other, more correct representations. It has something to do with ethics in the sense of learning to live. It has something to do with the community and the language of the community (whichever that may be) and the role of the poet regarding the community. It concerns justice without judgement or measure. In the end the just word is just a word , to paraphrase Godard: it is from a future that is unimaginable. It Is no rational engagement, but an aversion against everything that obstructs life, and love for everything what is worthy of having been loved. The world is engaged with me, not the other way round. First Exodus, then Sinai. A desire does not start with an agenda. To answer the question whether I am really so naive as to want to change the world: “We only want the world.” Justice is the world appealing to us to liberate it from all possible chains, from each organization and inequality, to be it, smooth, equal, under a clear sky—a desert and a people in a desert. That moment between Egypt and the Law. It is not a revolution, but the sky above the revolution. Poetry = the science of escape. There is no art that we already know. The weakness of modernistic epic poetry seems to me to be the unwillingness to completely abandon narrative as a structural principle, in favor of a composition “around” or from an event. The China Cantos and Adams Cantos are the low point, and the Pisan Cantos the high point of Pound’s poetry. Two types of research: archival representation of the past vs. ontology of the present (which virtually presupposes the entire history). Presupposing an event means that it is impossible for the poet to stage his own absence, but in no way makes the work personal. An event is the unknown, the new invading into the business as usual, so also the personal. The question heading this research is not: “Who am I?” but “What is happening?” The book is as little illegible as Mondrian’s work is invisible. Form is of interest only to the extent that it empowers liberation. Ron Silliman So no formalism, but what it means to live in this world and to have a future in it. I want something that holds together that’s not smooth. Bruce Andrews The past above, the future below and the present pouring down: the roar, the roar of the present, a speech— William Carlos Williams If my confreres wanted to write a work with all history in its maw, I wished, from the beginning to start all over again, attempting to know nothing but a will to create, and matter at hand. Ronald Johnson NOTES 1) “The easy thing/ that is difficult to make.” Bertold Brecht, Lob des Kommunismus . (All footnotes are the translator’s) 2) Maurice Blanchot, The Space of Literature , trans. Ann Smock. Lincoln/London: University of Nebraska Press (1989), 75. 3) Mettes uses the word “Neerlandicus,” which refers to scholars of Dutch language and literature. 4) Dutch poet. 5) Gertrude Stein. “Composition as Explanation.” A Stein Reader . Ed. Ulla E. Dydo. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press (1993), 495-503. 6) Ezra Pound. 7) Flemish poet. 8) “Resounding an original sound in the language of the despondent.” A. Roland Holst, De afspraak . 9) Dutch poet. 10) “Only such a confusion is a chaos which can give rise to a world.” 11) W.B. Yeats, “Adam’s Curse.&rdquo. (shrink)
continent. 1.3 (2011): 201-207. “Poetry is experience, linked to a vital approach, to a movement which is accomplished in the serious, purposeful course of life. In order to write a single line, one must have exhausted life.” —Maurice Blanchot (1982, 89) Nikos Karouzos had a communist teacher for a father and an orthodox priest for a grandfather. From his four years up to his high school graduation he was incessantly educated, reading the entire private library of his granddad, comprising mainly (...) the Orthodox Church Fathers and the ancient classics. Later on in his life he sold the library for money, only to buy a little more time before he went broke again: “I carry sorrow like a cage/ I got no birds/ as I come back from her hair/ I see the profit emptied/ cool from terror.” (1993, Ι, 101) Nowadays—and ridiculously recently—we are more than apt to speak of a certain insouciance pertaining to the Greek form of expenditure: expenditure without any type of investment, sometimes not (even) symbolic. In the vaults of the European unconscious, this imprudent stance still conjures a “capital punishment” in the form of de-capitation, reflecting back the fear of excess and the terror of its consequences.1 Thus the Greek way of living is very close to what a stranger could have termed as “the Greek way of dying.” Yet, what is not often understood is that the Greek esprit , the same one that invented the maxim μηδ?ν ?γαν (“nothing in excess”), does not experience death solely as an imminent fear of bankruptcy. For it miraculously combines its unconditional acceptance with the promise of a resurrection that is always there in the scents of Spring, from Dionysus to the orthodox Christ: “Everyone resurrects himself through dying [….] Resurrection is the switching of mortalities.” (2002, 94) Hence, if an entire library was imprudently traded for a plate with seven olives, a sliced tomato and some fresh goat cheese, let us not be fooled: this is not the meal of the pauper, but that of “an aristocrat from God” (1993, II, 491) feeding his eloquent loudmouth, ridiculously cut open in an otherwise rock-solid caput . *** To speak of the Greek experience is to speak about a half-dead language that still utters in life what is seemingly excluded from it and thus forbidden to be talked about: death. Death as anything that is out of this world, as something that will never return . Still, along with an experience of death that recently waned as a worn-out academic fashion, the Greek experience is dead too. Nearly 2300 years of written words separating Homer from the fall of Byzantium equal 500 books on a library traded for money: “I am with the killed. Hence my deepest solitude. I do not feel this tremendous macho society, beyond from the fact that it is a ruthlessly consuming one. It is me who pays all the time .” (2002, 57) Let us do the math and see how much this dealing with the Greek experience is costing the poet and how much dealing with the Greek experience might cost us today. *** “I do not guarantee a single word.” (Karouzos, 1993, II, 454) Through its various dialects and forms, the Greek language speaks through an incessant historical dissemination. Anyone who is aware of this terrifying polymorphy and still calls himself a poet, must stand against a white sheet of paper, pen-in-hand, with a very particular duty: to be as fully inconsistent as possible. In the formally ironic uniqueness of the poem, the poet functions as “a band-aid for lesser and greater antinomies.” (1993, I, 251) Of course these antinomies are not exhausted in language—they are historical, political and, alas, existential. Yet, beyond appearances , it is language that ruthlessly encodes them through history, submitting the poet to the temptation of placing them one next to the other on a single white sheet. The closer their neighboring, the greater the scattering of the writer in the ironic uniqueness of the paper. In a work where poetic license is described as a “freedom-impasse” (2002, 51), this task is undertaken in full conscience of its personal consequences: “what I am interested in is to escape my individuality (envisioning the non-ego) […] Nevertheless, my dissociations never achieve duration.” (2002, 74-75) Hence, though poetry is the “deserted direction of will,” (1998, 62) the stance of the poet is not that of a Nietzschean “great man.”2 Whereas drunkenness provides a thread between the poem and the excess it both presupposes and infuses (“Poetry always enlarges. ‘Drunkenness’ is nothing more than that,” (2002, 85)), whereas language flashes in loudmouth spurts of déraison (“When I am alone I do something else. I utter words. For example, while having my ouzo and listening to music I am most likely capable of randomly shouting ‘Electricity!’” (2002, 138)), the poet never gives in to the double affirmation that would eventually risk the “element of pleasure in discourse.” (2002, 80)” It is exactly because the gap of the antinomies is so vast that poetry is not meant to be written with a hammer. Neither does writing consist in a reevaluation of those elements. In short, poetry is not an affirmation of difference, but the surprising beauty of chiming antinomies. We might never transcend them, but it is up to us to put them together. Yet again, this voisinage is not to be identified with the necessity of chance as an eternal return.4 On the contrary it is a return from that very return : Let us treat Yes as a No to No and No as a Yes […] And let us not forget that this pissed affirmation crumbled down Nietzsche’s intellect in the dark paths of this world. (2002, 88) This return from the “vicious circle” should in no way be taken as a form of artistic prudence. Rather it can be seen as a dribble of demonic inconsistency as Dionysus transforms himself into a Christ that is in turn de-theologized: “Who can forbid that? Every man is capable of his own theology, nothing can stop him.” (2002, 73-74) This is a turn towards an existential vision of the world, historically coinciding with a particular political defeat of the Left, to which the poet devoted all his life: after the defeat of the popular front I raised the question “why do we exist?” while others were asking “why we failed.” (2002, 57)5 But most of all it is a return to poetry that exceeds the existential question itself, going beyond the issue of faith. Poetry comes in as a question of return after a defeat that is confessed in full profanity. Though it accepts the necessity of the defeat, it does not affirm it. Though it negates it, the negation is not in the name of a promise to be delivered in the kingdom of heavens. Following a historical and existential defeat, poetry is born post mortem . It signals a return to Christ as “groundless religiousness in the surprise of the real as such” (2002, 72) which is at once a return to the refuge of childhood. It is not a question of endurance towards an eternal return. Rather it is a question on the possibility of an existential return. Returning in a world as someone who cannot enjoy any returns exactly because he is averse to guarantees. A return without returns. *** PHOTOCOPY OF HAPPINESS When I was young I used to pin down cicadas and step on ant nests. I used to stand there silent for hours. With threads I decapitated bees. Now I am a dead man breathing. (Karouzos, 1993, II, 336.) The return to the “paradise of childhood” (2002, 68) constitutes the devouring refuge of its own memory when defeat becomes the synonym of adulthood. The political struggles of a young communist in a country torn up by a civil war right after World War II fraught with incarcerations and exiles. Historically they resulted in the defeat of the communist movement in Greece and opened up a long turbulent road that would peak in the dictatorship of 1967. Existentially they led to a series of disillusionments: mental breakdown, divorce, abandonment of studies in law school. To the question “why do we exist” the answer was poetry. Still this exposé should not be read as a sweeping chronography of a man. For it actually happens to coincide with the historical fate of a nation that after its modern constitution never stopped dreaming of the glories of its past youth, in a present that was (and is) sweepingly disappointing. But isn’t this return to youth finally a way of compensating for a loss of youth that necessarily results in a losing adulthood? Will Greeks, the eternal children of Plato and Nietzsche, ever learn? How to return without dying, how to remember without wasting time? WE ARE IN THE OPEN MEANING Living the coldest mauve night right across Parthenon I went to take a piss on some foliage and I was enjoying the foliage as it was steaming. (Karouzos, 1993, II, 340) Beyond the historical tragedies of modern Greece and away from any personal disappointments, the relation that this land holds with language and history is mediated through the Greek light—whose omnipresence is the very condition of its transcendence. All historical contradictions from Dionysus to Christ took place under this light; all those disseminated dialects were spoken beneath its warmth. To paraphrase Lévinas,6 light is both the condition of the world and of our withdrawal from it—a withdrawal towards the invisibility of God, of the dead, of meta-physics, resulting from the temptation that all is still here, behind this light the visibility of which they once evaded: “birds, the allurement of God.” (1993, I, 17) Under that luminous sky, if Greeks can do anything at all, it is to envision a return that will never come. All they can do is write poetry—which is doing nothing; other than lending an ear to a disseminated language whispering a unity that cannot be promised, as an adulthood in defeat is ready to recognize. Trying “to trap the invisible in visibility” (1993, II, 483) they forget that they have grown up and one day they die—with the promise of return. Hence an additional meaning must be given to this return to childhood. It does not signal salvation but rather its promise. To the ears of an aged continent it means that the return to/of poetry is a losing game, a return without returns. “Europe, Europe… you are nothing more than the continuation of Barabbas.” (1993, I, 295) *** “Life is not there to verify theories.”7 The records show that Karouzos was finally given a second-class pension from the Greek government, at the time when he was being recognized by the literary press as one of Greece’s major contemporary poets. Being neither a bourgeois nor a nobelist, he proclaimed himself to be an anarcho-communist, unconditionally faithful to the utopia of a classless society. He also drank, heavily. “Capitalism made an animal out of man/ Marxism made an animal out of truth/ Shut up.” (1993, II, 369) Perhaps one of the most scandalous divides of our times has been the one between the living and the dead, the latent prohibition that the living should not be concerned with the dead based on the mere impossibility of the dead to be concerned with the living in the first place. What adds to this scandal is that this divide abuses anything that cannot return to us by subsuming it under the same futility. Hence death is no longer “loss” in the usual sense. It no more refers to the things we lost but to our “loss” (of time, money and well-being) as we insist to dwell on them. Death is a waste —of time. It is this waste that we find in the insouciance of Greek expenditure; the waste in dealing with a language that most of its historical part is no longer spoken (a dead language); the waste in translating a poet who is ex definitio untranslatable; the waste of his vision, his money, his life. The waste of dealing with anything that cannot return and that cannot bring in any returns . But it is also the waste of life that poetry itself presupposes, the waste of dealing with invisibility, with anything that is out of this world and thus invokes the fear of death that is in turn—and surprisingly— nowhere to be found. Instead of death, what is there, beyond the light, is the being without us (to recall the Lévinasian il y a ), the mumble of our own nothingness which constitutes the price to be paid for writing poetry under an evergreek light. To understand this to-and-fro, is to realize that poetry is something out of this world that nevertheless takes place in this world, by virtue of this world. But to ridiculously equate this to-and-fro with death as non-existence, is to exile poetry along with its own possibility from this same old world: I do not believe that poetry will ever disappear from this world. […] But I am also sure that it does not have many chances of playing, as you say, a redemptive role in our vertiginous technological future. Without being endangered as a creative need, it will be placed on the side of history. (2002, 32) It is mainly there that we would like to locate the meaning of Nikos Karouzos’s poetry today. If we are willing to include the Greek original it is because we consider that it will be both a waste of time for us to do so (since most of you cannot read Greek) and because it might induce you to the even larger waste of learning it. We would additionally be glad if this small introduction served as an equally wasteful, academically useless piece of reading, gesturing towards a taboo of investing in anything Greek—that is in anything dead among the living, in anything that will never come back and maybe was never here in the first place. This is the only way to reserve for ourselves the possibility of poetry and preserve the light of its promise. “To return: that is the miracle.” (1993, I, 17) Athens, Greece July 10, 2011 NOTES 1 “ Capitale (a Late Latin word based on caput “head”) emerged in the twelfth to thirteenth centuries in the sense of funds, stock of merchandise, sum of money or money carrying interest.[…] The word and the reality it stood for appear in the sermons of St. Bernardino of Siena (1380-1444) ‘… quamdam seminalem rationem lucrosi quam communiter capitale vocamus ’, ‘that prolific cause of wealth that we commonly call capital’” (Braudel, 1992, 232-233). 2 “A great man – a man whom nature has constructed and invented in the grand style – what is he? First : there is a long logic in all of his activity, hard to survey because of its length, and consequently misleading; he has the ability to extend his will across great stretches of his life and to despise and reject everything petty about him, including even the fairest, ‘divinest’ things in the world.” (Nietzsche, 1968, 505, §962) 3 Cf. Deleuze, 1986, 186-9. 4 “Return is the being of becoming, the unity of multiplicity, the necessity of chance: the being of difference as such or the eternal return.” (Deleuze, 189)5 In this 1982 interview Karouzos refers to the defeat of the communist movement in Greece after the civil war of 1946-1949 between the Governmental Army and the Democratic Army of Greece, the military division of the Greek communist party. Karouzos’s father was a member of the communist National Liberation front (EAM) members of which formed the mainl resistance movement (ELAS) in Greece during WWII. The poet was a member of the United Panhellenic Organization of Youth (EPON), which was a youth division of EAM. After the end of the war, ELAS was called to disarmament in view of the formation of a National Army. The members of EAM resigned from the government of national unity and a series of protests led to a 3 year civil war between ELAS and the Government Army. After the defeat of ELAS the Communist party was outlawed and many communists were exiled in deserted Greek islands. Karouzos, who took action in the Greek resistance and was active during the Greek civil war, was exiled in Icaria on 1947 and in Makronisos on 1953 where he was called two years earlier to do his military service. 6 “Existence in the world qua light, which makes desire possible, is then, in the midst of being, the possibility of detaching oneself from being. To enter into being is to link up with objects; it is in effect a bond that is already tainted with nullity. It is already to escape anonymity. In this world where everything seems to affirm our solidarity with the totality of existence, where we are caught up in the gears of a universal mechanism, our first feeling, our ineradicable illusion, is a feeling or illusion of freedom. To be in the world is this hesitation, this interval in existing, which we have seen in the analyses of fatigue and the present.” (Lévinas, 1988,43-4) 7from a TV interview. THE POETRY OF NIKOS KAROUZOS From Redwriter [ Ερυθρογρ?φος ], in Collected Works, Vol . II, Athens: Ikaros. 1993, 463-4. [Athens: Apopeira, 1990, 9-10.] JESUS ANTI-OEDIPUS* Why were we once saving till the fifth day the Paschal lamb? The scriptures say: with this victim’s meat we ought to cleanse all of our senses. To give life to the whitest wave miraculous odors in the extension of the chest. Ideals to death. For us to witness the illustrious dawns of Absinthe and for the soul to be a deeply carved ornament on the fore we named will. Then many deer running amidst the evergreen growth with watery hymns, then, the unintended angels descending with heights spiraling in their momentum offer themselves to the luminous Adventure. Whence the need for speech and our sufferings covered with flags like the glorified dead. An incorporeal finger pointing at the flamboyant and fragrant holocausts within the tired horizons and the exhausted breadths with joys of the mistletoe on fire and shivering all of the green-leaved love. Something would have chirped again had we not driven it away— maybe the ewe’s grass. Something would have called us to the eternal resurrection— maybe the grace of spring. But now our heart is fiercely blinded, withdrawn to the appearances of Hades. Silence and ice incessantly cover the Infant Spirit in thatched times. While the cherry trees are dreaming faintly glowing in absolute darkness there’s nothing the Babylonians can contemplate in labs with automatic colored lights. How to rejoice now in the fifth day of the lamb? We have forked the stars. We’ve gradually become supposedly sublime with plucked chimeras in our hands. Avenged relentlessly by science. *Though the poem appears in a 1990 collection, it was actually written in 1968. Hence the reader must be aware in not associating Karouzos’ Anti-Oedipus with the famous 1972 work of Deleuze and Guattari, given that the former precedes the latter. ΙΗΣΟΥΣ ΑΝΤΙ-ΟΙΔΙΠΟΥΣ Γιατ? κρατο?σαμε κ?ποτε ?ς την π?μπτη μ?ρα το πασχαλιν? πρ?βατο; Τα κε?μενα λ?νε: μ’ αυτο? του θ?ματος το κρ?ας ?πρεπε να καθαρ?σουμε ?λες τις αισθ?σεις. Για να δ?σουμε κ?μα στη ζω? λευκ?τατο θαυμ?σιες ευωδι?ς στην ?κταση του στ?θους. Ιδανικ? στο χ?ρο. Για να βλ?πουμε τα λαμπρ? χαρ?ματα του ?ψινθου και να ’ναι η ψυχ? στ?λισμα βαθυχ?ρακτο της πλ?ρης που την ε?παμε θ?ληση. Τ?τε πολλ?ς δορκ?δες τρ?χοντας αν?μεσα στην καταπρ?σινη φ?ση με τους υδ?τινους ?μνους, τ?τε, κατεβα?νοντας οι αθ?λητοι ?γγελοι με κυλινδο?μενο το ?ψος στην ορμ? τους χαρ?ζονται της αστραφτερ?ς Περιπ?τειας. ?θεν η μιλι? γι’ αυτ? χρει?ζεται και τα δειν? σκεπ?ζονται ωσ?ν τους τιμημ?νους νεκρο?ς με σημα?ες. Ασ?ματο δ?χτυλο δε?χνει τα φλογ?δη και μοσχοβ?λα ολοκαυτ?ματα στους κουρασμ?νους ορ?ζοντες στα εξουθενωμ?να πλ?τη καθ?ς αν?βουν οι χαρ?ς του νερα?δ?ξυλου και τρ?μει ολ?κληρη η πρασιν?φυλλη αγ?πη. Κ?τι θα κελαηδο?σε π?λι αν δεν το δι?χναμε— μπορε? της προβατ?νας το χορτ?ρι. Κ?τι θα μας καλο?σε στην απ?ραντη αν?σταση— μπορε? του ?αρος η χ?ρη. Μα η καρδι? μας ?γρια τυφλ?θηκε π?ρασε στα φαιν?μενα του ?δη. Σιγ? και π?γος αδι?κοπα σκεπ?ζει στους αχυρ?νιους καιρο?ς το Ν?πιο Πνε?μα. Την ?ρα που ονειρε?ονται οι βυσσινι?ς και λ?μπουν αμυδρ? μεσ’ στο απλ?τατο σκοτ?δι τ?ποτα δε στοχ?ζονται οι βαβυλ?νιοι στα εργαστ?ρια με τ’ αυτ?ματα χρωματιστ? φ?τα. Π?ς να χαρο?με πια την π?μπτη μ?ρα του προβ?του; Φουρκ?σαμε τ’ αστ?ρια. Γ?ναμε σιγ?-σιγ? δ?θεν υπ?ροχοι με μαδημ?νες χ?μαιρες στα χ?ρια. Μας ν?μεται σκληρ? η επιστ?μη. From: Redwriter [Ερυθρογρ?φος], in Collected Works, Vol. II, Athens: Ikaros. 1993, 472. [Athens: Apopeira, 1990, 18.] DIALECTΙCS OF SPRING Christ the straight angle; Christ the Pythagorean theorem. Christ the infinitesimal calculus from above the blessed Sets Christ. Christ the tessellation of massive particles Christ the zero mass. Hence we spray numbers and fields of lust. We are carabineers of diseased logic plus something— Observed means observer and Hekate The darkness luminous and light in the dark Astarte banqueters demons from today. ΔΙΑΛΕΚΤΙΚΗ ΤΟΥ ΕΑΡΟΣ Χριστ?ς η ορθ? γων?α· Χριστ?ς το πυθαγ?ριο θε?ρημα. Χριστ?ς ο απειροστικ?ς λογισμ?ς ?νωθεν ?λβια Χριστ?ς τα Σ?νολα. Χριστ?ς η ψηφιδογραφ?α στα μαζικ? σωμ?τια Χριστ?ς η μ?ζα μηδ?ν. ?ρα ψεκ?ζουμε αριθμο?ς και πεδ?α λαγνε?ας. Ε?μαστε τυφεκιοφ?ροι νοσο?σης λογικ?ς και κ?τι-- παρατηρο?μενο σημα?νει παρατηρητ?ς και Εκ?τη σκ?τος το π?μφωτο και φως εν τ? σκοτ?? η Αστ?ρτη συνδαιτημ?νες δα?μονες απ’ ?ρτι. From: Redwriter [Ερυθρογρ?φος], Athens: Apopeira, 1990, 18. [1993, II, 472]. CREDO (as we are used to say in Latin) Α I believe in one Poet expelled from heavens / fugitive from the god and vagabond, Empedocles / and here on earth / exile on the earth etc. of Baudelaire /. Β I believe in one Computer inside thunder and through matter. Γ Suffering undefiled / substantive / the Poet uplifts himself slow-burning suicidal implying lengthy sleeps. Δ Cutting down on prospective mistakes. Ε Of all things visible and invisible officiating the onion-peelings. Ζ The Poet has nothing / see the departed /. Η I believe in one Poet that says: madness I enjoy; he ridicules existence; let me light up from my mana. Θ Syntax he doesn’t care about when musicality commands him. Along with still more licenses, and Ts are played according to the concept sound anywhere. E.g. the winters here, he winters there; it will not come—I will not rest, etc. etc. Ι The Poet exercises thought until it’s stripped down. Κ And if he’s Greek he must always study the fineness of Attica, in light, mountains, fields and sea. For this fineness teaches language. Λ And if he’s deeply destined the Poet expresses the unexplainable of the explained; he happens to be a rightful heir to the scientist and his predecessor. Μ On the froth he does not last; the Poet blusters at the bottom of the pot. Ν Flamebred and never redeemed. Ξ The Poet must sometimes say: what a consumption of presence — be a bit lonely for a change! Ο The Poet is twilit. Π He is susceptible of deaths and resurrections. Ρ He looks from the corner of his eye and exists in a glance. Σ He follows behind the mother. Τ Eveningless when it comes to age. Υ I believe in one Poet who says: let the purities coincide. Until the Corinth of the Universe or even further. Φ In a higher despair. Χ In a brighter quintessence. Ψ In one sensation that lifts off. Ω Forgiving everyone. CREDO (ως ε?θισται να λ?με λατινιστ?) Α Πιστε?ω εις ?να Ποιητ?ν εκτ?ς ουρανο? / φυγ?ς θε?θεν και αλ?της, Εμπεδοκλ?ς / και επ? της γης / εξ?ριστος π?νω στη γη κ.λπ. του Βωδελα?ρου /. Β Πιστε?ω εις ?να Υπολογιστ?ν εντ?ς κεραυνο? και δια της ?λης. Γ Υποφ?ροντας ?χραντα / ουσιαστικ?ν / ο Ποιητ?ς ανατε?νεται βραδυφλεγ?ς αυτ?χειρας εξυπακο?οντας πολ?ωρους ?πνους. Δ Τα υποψ?φια λ?θη λιγοστε?οντας. Ε Ορατ?ν τε π?ντων και αορ?των ιερουργ?ντας την αποκρομμ?ωση. Ζ Ο Ποιτ?ς ?χει τ?ποτα / βλ?πε τους αναχωρ?σαντες /. Η Πιστε?ω εις ?να Ποιητ?ν που λ?ει: η τρ?λα μ’ αρ?σει· γελοιοποιε? την ?παρξη· ας αν?ψω απ’ τη μ?να μου. Θ Συνταχτικ? δεν το γνοι?ζεται στην προσταγ? της μουσικ?τητας. Μαζ? και μ’ ?λλες ακ?μη λευτερι?ς, και τα νυ πα?ζονται κατ? την ?ννοια ?χος οπουδ?ποτε. Π.χ. τον χειμ?να εδ?, το χειμ?να εκε?· δε θ? ’ρθει – δεν θα καταλαγι?σουμε, κ. λπ. κ.λπ. Ι Ο Ποιητ?ς γυμν?ζει τη σκ?ψη σε απογ?μνωση. Κ Κι αν ε?ναι ?λληνας οφε?λει να σπουδ?ζει π?ντοτε της Αττικ?ς τη λεπτ?τητα, σε φως, βουν?, χωρ?φια και θ?λασσα. Διδ?σκει γλ?σσα η λεπτ?τητα το?τη. Λ Κι αν ε?ναι βαθι? πεπρωμ?νος ο Ποιητ?ς εκφρ?ζει το ανεξ?γητο του εξηγητο?· τυγχ?νει ν?μιμος δι?δοχος του επιστ?μονα και προκ?τοχ?ς του. Μ Στον αφρ? δεν ?χει δι?ρκεια· στο πατοκ?ζανο μα?νεται ο Ποιητ?ς. Ν Φλογοδ?αιτος και ποτ? ξελυτρωμ?νος. Ξ Ο Ποιητ?ς κ?ποτε πρ?πει να λ?ει: μεγ?λη καταν?λωση παρουσ?ας – γενε?τε και λ?γο μοναξι?ρηδες! Ο Ο Ποιητ?ς ε?ναι αμφ?φλοξ. Π Επιδ?χεται θαν?τους και αναστ?σεις. Ρ Ακροθωρ?ζει και υπ?ρχει σε ξαφνοκο?ταγμα. Σ Ε?ναι ουραγ?ς της μητ?ρας. Τ Αν?σπερος απ? ηλικ?α. Υ Πιστε?ω εις ?να Ποιητ?ν που λ?ει: να συμπ?σουν οι αγν?τητες. Μ?χρι την Κ?ρινθο του Σ?μπαντος ? μακρ?τερα. Φ Σε αν?τερη απελπισ?α. Χ Σε φαειν?τερη πεμπτουσ?α. Ψ Σε μια α?σθηση που πτηνο?ται. Ω Συγχωρ?ντας τους π?ντες. From Large Sized Logic [ Λογικ? μεγ?λου σχ?ματος ], Athens: Erato, 1989, n.p. [1993, II, 521-3]. (shrink)
Par de botas se titula la obra del pintor holandés Vincent Van Gogh. Es a partir del análisis de esta pintura que realiza el filósofo alemán Martin Heidegger en su obra El origen de la obra de arte, desde el cual se creará un rico debate, referido sobre todo a la procedencia y significado último de esta obra de Van Gogh. El presente ensayo procura aunar fenomenológicamente, al alero del pensamiento de Martin Heidegger, el conjunto de cuadros que pintó (...) el pintor holandés sobre el “modelo zapato”, bajo el “tema del andar”, entendido como una “errancia”, que en Van Gogh se torna en dramática búsqueda de pertenencia, pero sobre todo de condiciones para la subsistencia, tanto física como espiritual. Por lo tanto el zapato deviene en emblema, el vehículo con el cual desplazarse en las agrestes geografías de su vagabundear. Pair of Boots is the work titled by the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. It is based on the analysis of this painting that the German philosopher Martin Heidegger makes in his book The Origin of the Work of Art, from which we create a rich debate, primarily concerned with the origin and ultimate meaning of Van Gogh´s work. This paper seeks to combine phenomenologically, the wing of thought of Martin Heidegger, the set of pictures he painted on the Dutch painter “shoe model” under the “theme of walking”, understood as a “wandering” in Van Gogh dramatic turns in search of belonging, but especially for subsistence conditions, both physical and spiritual. So the shoe becomes an emblem, the vehicle with which to travel in the rugged geography of his wandering. (shrink)
Last summer I was given the opportunity to work closely with an extensive exhibition of Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings at the National Gallery of Canada (through a class run here at the University of Alberta). I focused my research for the class on unpacking the significance of an unorthodox painting in the show entitled The Large Plane Trees (1889), which presents Jean François Millet-inspired digging figures in a markedly diminished and experimental way. Looking to the overt spirituality (...) of Van Gogh’s personal writings, Van Gogh’s curious obsession of copying Millet’s agrarian figures, the influence of Ukiyo-e Japanese woodblock prints, and nineteenth-century politics regarding the depicting of the rural and working classes, this paper gives readers a chance to understand a small portion of the pedagogy, and aims of an artist whose aspirations have been wildly misconstrued by popular and academic media. (shrink)
Last summer I was given the opportunity to work closely with an extensive exhibition of Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings at the National Gallery of Canada. I focused my research for the class on unpacking the significance of an unorthodox painting in the show entitled The Large Plane Trees, which presents Jean François Millet-inspired digging figures in a markedly diminished and experimental way. Looking to the overt spirituality of Van Gogh’s personal writings, Van Gogh’s curious obsession of copying (...) Millet’s agrarian figures, the influence of Ukiyo-e Japanese woodblock prints, and nineteenth-century politics regarding the depicting of the rural and working classes, this paper gives readers a chance to understand a small portion of the pedagogy, and aims of an artist whose aspirations have been wildly misconstrued by popular and academic media. (shrink)
Een van de kenmerken van de wijsgerige theologie zoals die in de Utrechtse school wordt beoefend, is de nadruk op een persoonlijk Godsbegrip. Daarom wordt voor de bijdragen gebundeld in Hoe is uw Naam? Opstellen over de eigenschappen van God geclaimd ‘dat over de eigenschappen van God niet op abstracte wijze wordt gespeculeerd, maar dat zij afgelezen worden uit het persoonlijk handelen van God jegens mens en wereld’. In het artikel ‘Conceptuele analyse en christelijk geloof. Over de wijsgerige theologie in (...) Utrecht’ heb ik geprobeerd aan te tonen dat deze claim slechts in beperkte mate wordt waar gemaakt. (shrink)
'Ik was bang - niet heel erg, maar toch wel een beetje - dat jullie me niet meer mochten omdat ik jullie tot last ben, maar de brief van Jo is voor mij het levende bewijs dat jullie heel goed beseffen dat ik van mijn kant net zo hard werk en ploeter als jullie.'.
In zijn verhelderende opstel over De eigen aard van het geloof in de wijsgerige theologie van Vincent Brümmer, gaat Henk Geertsema vooral in op ‘de aard van de geloofskennis zoals die in de Utrechtse school [en met name in mijn geschriften] wordt gezien’ . De centrale vraag voor Geertsema is ‘of de wijze waarop Brümmer de kennis die eigen is aan het geloof, opvat recht doet aan het eigen aard van het bijbelse geloof als bepaald door de levende omgang (...) met God’ . Twee gezichtspunten zijn hier vooral van belang:’ de verbinding van geloofskennis met de praktische levenshouding, die kenmerkend wordt geacht voor het “verfijnd theologisch realisme” van de Utrechtse school; de typering van de wijsgerige theologie als “grammatica van het geloof”‘ . In mijn antwoord zal ik vooral ingaan op Geerstema’s bespreking van het ‘verfijnd theologisch realisme’. Ten aanzien van ‘het grammatica van het geloof’ zal ik volstaan met een opmerking over Geertsema’s onderscheiding tussen ‘de taal van de wijsgerige theologie’ en ‘die van het concrete geloven of van de Bijbel’ . Ik kan hier kort zijn omdat Marcel Sarot in zijn bijdrage uitvoerig op dit punt ingaat. (shrink)
As part of the conference commemorating Theoria's 75th anniversary, a round table discussion on philosophy publishing was held in Bergendal, Sollentuna, Sweden, on 1 October 2010. Bengt Hansson was the chair, and the other participants were eight editors-in-chief of philosophy journals: Hans van Ditmarsch (Journal of Philosophical Logic), Pascal Engel (Dialectica), Sven Ove Hansson (Theoria), Vincent Hendricks (Synthese), Søren Holm (Journal of Medical Ethics), Pauline Jacobson (Linguistics and Philosophy), Anthonie Meijers (Philosophical Explorations), Henry S. Richardson (Ethics) and Hans Rott (...) (Erkenntnis). (shrink)