A Response to Steve Buttes. By Alberto Moreiras

IMG_3918(I am prompted to make of this, which is a response to Steve’s post below, a separate entry here.)

Dear Steve,

I thank you for your interest and the work you have put into this, which is in itself flattering to the Collective.   While I only mean to give you a general response—I do not think I am the owner of infrapolitics, of course, or any kind of gatekeeper—I will also try to follow the thread of your discourse and will make comments as they appear relevant. It is not for me to pass any kind of judgment on the force of your analyses, since I am involved in them in ways too conflicted for me to take a step back.

Infrapolitics stands indeed in a paradoxical relationship to politics which may have something to do with religion—recently there has come up within the group the notion that marrano infrapolitics (which is a kind of assumed militancy, as opposed to infrapolitics as such, which simply happens) is a religion without religion–, but it does not however think of itself in any kind of ethical commitment to anything or anyone: neither to the poor nor to the rich. It is simply not a thinking of the ethical commitment. So the comparison with liberation theology or with any charity politics kind of breaks down in my opinion.   The subaltern relation in infrapolitics hits a different register, and it has to do with its very precise abandonment of social hegemony: it makes exodus of it, whatever the social hegemony happens to be (say, even if it is postsubalternist in Beverley’s parlance). This is not because infrapolitics, in its assumed or “militant” dimension, is antipolitical; it is rather because it affirms a directly posthegemonic politics: a demotic republicanism of equality based on the notion that nadie es más que nadie, which means: nobody occupies the site of representation, neither the rich, nor the poor. It is an-archic in that sense. It does not support the precariat, not directly (I mean, it may, if it comes to political choice, but the action that results from a political choice is no longer infrapolitics): it is itself precarious, and it lives in precarity. Joyfully.

Re the notion of “pequeño ajuste,” I think it is true this is a major theme. But perhaps not in the messianic (without messianism) way you describe it following Lerner, who himself takes it out of Agamben discussing Benjamin and Scholem. The “pequeño ajuste infrapolítico” involves a lot but, I would say, in a radical, strictly, thoroughly antimessianic way, way beyond any structure of the promise. It is precisely a step back from any kind of promise, and from the economy of the promise. We have talked about this frequently in terms of letting-be, and also more particularly in terms of the notion of Gelassenheit taken from Meister Eckhart, Heidegger, Schürmann.   My position is that, while there is ever a practice of Gelassenheit in infrapolitics, while infrapolitics lets-be and is a practice of letting-be, there can be no final letting-be, there can be no final Gelassenheit, since the human is forever trapped in the tragic condition between natality and mortality and all that it entails.   The gap between the practice of Gelassenheit and the impossibility of a final state of rest calls for that “pequeño ajuste” that might ground all aspects of existential infrapolitics—it also organizes, I would think, what I will call the politics of infrapolitics in the widest sense. Because it opens up the terrain of action. There is nothing peaceful about infrapolitics.

This would not have much to do with the Borgesian “imminence of a revelation as yet unproduced” in the sense in which you read it. The revelation is unproduced not because it remains invisible—the “production” of the revelation would never be its coming into visibility (the revelation remains unproduced). Infrapolitics does not search for, nor does it desire, the invisible. On the contrary, it is a radical concern with existence such as it is, which also means with desire such as it is.   It takes the structure of desire seriously, of course, which makes it take less seriously the notion that desire may have a goal that has to do either with traducing the invisible into the visible or, in a more Baudelairian (but also more perverse) way, with keeping the invisible invisible. It sees what it can, it desires what it must, and it lets it be. And it knows and acknowledges whatever pain or joy that brings along. To that extent I would make the claim that only infrapolitics is properly material, or materialist.

Re the saying and the said, or nature and the landscape, the reference here is to the ontico-ontological difference in the Heideggerian sense. I would also, myself, say, the Derridean sense, but there are differences in the group regarding Derrida’s use of the Heideggerian notion. For me infrapolitics is above all an exercise (exercitium, we take this word literally) in the region of the ontico-ontological difference, that is, in the difference between being and beings.

The punctum is also a crucial concept for me, as precisely the site of desire, redefined by infrapolitics as the crossing of the ontological difference in every case.   I should use this precise point in your paper to warn you that when I wrote Tercer espacio, or even Exhaustion of Difference, I was not yet thinking of infrapolitics. So for me the inferences are very interesting, but I am not ready to endorse them without going over them with a very fine comb.

My general impression, Steve, is that you come at infrapolitics with framings and enframings of your own and have not yet moved into the terrain where infrapolitics may become fertile: you are, if you will, still missing the “minor adjustment.” This is probably the reason why your questions at the end do not strike a chord in me—they are not my questions, which means I cannot provide answers for them, I am sorry.   But, as I said, I am not the gatekeeper, so you are very welcome in terms of doing your own theorizing and your own extrapolations. And I am not asking you to “take the step” or anything of the kind. If there is one thing infrapolitics abhors, it is any kind of pedagogy.

Let me only say one thing, though: there is extreme resistance to infrapolitics in the field, I rarely make “vague claims” regarding things I have patent experience of. And the sentence “infrapolitics is the canon, it is the archive itself” is, although flattering, since you can only formulate it out of a certain clear respect for the thing, is, I think, misleading. No, infrapolitics is a relation to the archive. A different and difficult one.

Thanks so very much again for having worried about it, written about it, and shared it so that we can discuss it.





2 thoughts on “A Response to Steve Buttes. By Alberto Moreiras

  1. Pingback: A reply to Steve Buttes on infrapolitics. (Gerardo Muñoz) | Infrapolitical Deconstruction Collective

  2. Pingback: More thoughts on infrapolitics. (Steve Buttes) | Infrapolitical Deconstruction Collective

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