De El fragmento repetido, de Willy Thayer (Santiago: Metales pesados, 2006). Por Alberto Moreiras.

El último párrafo de El fragmento repetido, ostensiblemente sobre el nihilismo neoliberal o el neoliberalismo nihílico como época que termina las épocas, con su invocación de la imagen dialéctica como recurso de destrucción o destrucción recursiva, puede servir para referir a la relación entre infrapolítica y política: “Tal vez cuando indicamos que nada respira, en esa indicación algo respira. Como si el pensamiento contemporáneo–en cada caso–tuviera su chance de oxígeno en esa indicación; como si pensara sólo cuando pensara en su imposibilidad; tal como el arte sólo tiene lugar ‘subrayando en cada caso su propia muerte'” (340).

 

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Stasis: Civil War as Threshold Between Infrapolitics and Politics

Agamben, Stasis

Crossposted from Posthegemony.

Giorgio Agamben’s short book Stasis: Civil War as a Political Paradigm comprises two brief essays, one on the Athenian concept of “stasis” or civil war, the other on the role of the multitude in Hobbes’s Leviathan. What links them, he tells us, is the notion that “the constitutive element of the modern State” is “ademia [. . .] that is, [. . .] the absence of a people” (vi). Obviously enough, this will come as something of a surprise to “the Western political tradition” for which, as Agamben notes, the “concept of people” is “arguably the fundamental concept” (39). Think after all of the opening of the United States constitution, for which “we the people” are presented as that country’s basic political bedrock.

Agamben proposes instead the multitude as the core concept of political theory. So far, so good, and no doubt also so Italian. But what Agamben adds to the work of (say) Toni Negri and Paolo Virno is the observation that “the multitude is the subject of civil war” (40) and, further, that it is thus through civil war that the political realm is established. Or, as he puts it in his discussion of the Greeks:

it constitutes a zone of indifference between the unpolitical space of the family [oikos] and the political space of the city [polis]. [. . .] In the system of Greek politics civil war functions as a threshold of politicization and depoliticization, through which the house is exceeded in the city and the city is depoliticized in the family. (12)

For, as Agamben points out, Solon’s law explicitly punishes those who do not take part in civil war: such people forfeit their rights to citizenship; “not taking part in the civil war amounts to being expelled from the polis and confined in the oikos” (13). Civil war is, therefore, not (as we tend to see it) simply the point at which the political dissolves, as the state fractures and society is reduced to warring factions. It is also constituent, “the unforgettable that must always remain possible in the city,” however much today, by contrast, we regard it as “something that one must seek to make impossible at every cost” (16).

To put this another way (in terms that Agamben himself does not use), it is civil war that is the threshold or hinge between infrapolitics and politics per se. He offers here a theory of the ways in which the political emerges and is dissolved. Moreover, in his study of Hobbes, Agamben further offers civil war as the process by which what he calls the “dissolved multitude” (the multitude subject to biopolitical power) is transformed into the “disunited multitude” that makes itself known by turning on the absent people (absorbed into the figure of sovereign power, the Leviathan). And though it is not entirely obvious how these two conceptions mesh with each other, in both cases civil war has to remain an intimate possibility in the heart of any and every political order. For sovereignty, at least until the coming of the end times, can only remain an (optical) illusion, a trick of representation. In the meantime, “no real unity, no political body is actually possible: the body political can only dissolve itself into a multitude” (49). Agamben thus reverses the eschatological tendencies inherent (as I have argued elsewhere) in Negri’s vision of the multitude: here it is only the state that dreams of a substantial presence and unity to come. The multitude, by contrast, is located on a perennial threshold, figured as civil war, between house and city, infrapolitics and the political.

The sting in the tail of Agamben’s analysis, however, is given only sotto voce, in a digression or coda to the first essay that’s presented in smaller font than the rest. This is the observation that “the form that civil war has acquired today in world history is terrorism. [. . .] Global terrorism is the form that civil war acquires when life as such becomes the stake of politics” (18). This only goes to show once again that (whatever Negri thinks) nobody should look to the multitude for their salvation. But instead of denying the possibility of civil war, trying to exclude it from the political order, we need to recognize that order’s indebtedness to it, and pick one of the many sides (who says there should be just two?) that any such conflict opens up. For this is the very paradigm of the political, of the perpetual emergence and dissolution of political activity as such.

Podemos, ¿en nombre de qué? Transversalidad y Democracia. (Gerardo Muñoz)

En el artículo “Una patada en la mesa”, publicado el pasado 17 de Mayo, el pensador David Soto Carrasco pone sobre la mesa dos estrategias fundamentales para acercarnos sobre lo que viene acechando a la política española (aunque para los que estamos interesados en pensar la política más allá de un caso nacional, España es solamente un paradigma de la tarea central para el pensamiento político). Primero, Soto señala, contra los críticos convencionales tanto de la derecha como de la izquierda, que el nuevo acuerdo entre Podemos-Izquierda Unida no es una radicalización ultraizquierdista de la nueva fuerza política de Pablo Iglesias. Y segundo, sugiere que el nuevo acuerdo tampoco es un “acto de resistencia” en el sentido de una mera filiación para mantenerse a flote en la escena de la política nacional.

Soto Carrasco nos dice que se trata de un acto político de madurez que convoca a la ciudadanía española a través de una táctica de transversalidad. La alianza con Izquierda Unida, de esta manera, no estaría implicada en arribismo hegemónico, sino en nuevas posibilidades para “dibujar líneas de campo” y enunciar otras posiciones por fuera del belicismo gramsciano (guerra de posiciones). Soto Carrasco le llama a esto “sentido común”, pero le pudiéramos llamar democracia radical, o bien lo que en otra parte he llamado, siguiendo a José Luis Villacañas, deriva republicana. Conviene citar ese momento importante del artículo de Soto Carrasco:

“En política, la iniciativa depende fundamentalmente de la capacidad de enunciar tu posición, la posición del adversario pero también de definir el terreno de juego. Si se quiere ganar el partido, no solo basta con jugar bien, sino que hay que dibujar las líneas del campo. Dicho con otras palabras si se quiere ganar el cambio hay que recuperar la capacidad de nombrar las cosas y redefinir las prioridades. Generalmente esto lo hacemos a través de lo que llamamos sentido común. Para ello, la izquierda (como significante) ya no es determinante” [1].

El hecho que los partidos políticos y sus particiones ideológicas tradicionales estén de capa caída hacia el abismo que habitamos, es algo que no se le escapa ni al más desorientado viviente. Contra el abismo, el sentido común supone colocar al centro del quehacer de la política las exigencias de una nueva mayoría. Pero esa gran mayoría, en la medida en que es una exigencia, no puede constituirse como identidad, ni como pueblo, ni como representación constituida. La gran política no puede radicarse exclusivamente como restitución de la ficción popular bajo el principio de hegemonía.

En los últimos días he vuelto sobre uno de los ensayos de Il fuoco e il racconto (Nottetempo 2014) de Giorgio Agamben, donde el pensador italiano argumenta que justamente de lo que carecemos hoy es de “hablar en nombre de algo” en cuanto habla sin identidad y sin lugar [2]. La política (o el populismo) habla hoy en nombre de la hegemonía; como el neoliberalismo lo hace en nombre de la técnica y de las ganancias del mercado, o la universidad en nombre de la productividad y los saberes de “campos”. Hablar desde el mercado, la universidad, o el gobierno no son sino un mismo dispositivo de dominación, pero eso aun no es hablar en nombre de algo. Agamben piensa, en cambio, en un habla abierta a la impotencia del otro, de un resto que no se subjetiviza, de un pueblo que no se expone, y de una lengua que no llegaremos a entender. El mayor error de la teoría de la hegemonía es abastecer el enunciado del ‘nombre’ con fueros que buscan armonizar (en el mejor de los casos) y administrar el tiempo de la vida en política.

Por eso tiene razón José Luis Villacañas cuando dice que el populismo es política para idiotas (Agamben dice lo mismo, sin variar mucho la fórmula, que hoy solo los imbéciles pueden hablar con propiedad). Podríamos entender – y esta sería una de las preguntas que se derivan del artículo de Soto Carrasco – el dar nombre, ¿desde ya como función política que abandona la hegemonía, y que contiene en su interior el rastro poshegemónico? ¿No es ese “sentido común” siempre ya “sentido común” de la democracia en tanto toma distancia de la hegemonía como producción de ademia? Si la democracia es hoy ilegítima es porque sigue dirigiendo las fuerzas de acción propositiva hacia la clausura del significante “Pueblo” en nombre de un “poder constituido”.

En este sentido estoy de acuerdo con Moreiras cuando dice que la poshegemonía “nombra” la posibilidad de cualquier posible invención política en nuestro tiempo [3]. Es una brecha del pensamiento. Lo que siempre “nombramos” nunca habita en la palabra, en el concepto, o en prefijo, sino en la posibilidad entre nosotros y la potencia de imaginación para construir algo nuevo. Y eso es lo que pareciera constituir el olvido de los que permanecen enchufados a la política de la hegemonía, o la hegemonía como siempre reducible de una manera u otra a la política.

Soto Carrasco propone una transversalidad entendida como “principio político y nueva cultura política”. Y esto, nos dice, es lo decisivo para un nuevo rumbo y renovación de la política. La transversalidad es momento y estrategia de invención de las propias condiciones de la política real, y por eso necesariamente se escapa al orden de la hegemonía o del doblez en “Pueblo”. ¿Qué tipo de transversalidad? ¿Y cómo hacerlo sin volver a dibujar un mapa de alianzas políticas y sus digramacionoes de poder, siempre en detrimento del orden institucional y de la división de poderes? Fue esto lo que en buena medida limitó y finalmente llevó a la ruina y agotamiento la capacidad de ascenso del progresismo en América Latina durante este último ciclo histórico de luchas más reciente [4]. La transversalidad no puede ser alianza meramente con fines electoralistas o populistas de un lado u otro péndulo del poder.

A la transversalidad habría que superponerla con su suplemento: una segmentariedad inconmensurable, poshegemónica, y anti-carismática. Como lo ha notado recientemente José Luis Villacañas, quizás varíen las formas en que aparezca el lenguaje: “Es posible que lo que yo llamo republicanismo no sea sino la mirada de un senior de aquello que para alguien jóvenes es populismo…” [5]. Pero si las palabras y los términos fluctúan (siempre son otros para los otros), lo único que queda es la pregunta: ¿en nombre de qué?

Más allá de la palabra o el concepto, la política que viene tendría que estar en condición de hablar-se en nombre del fin de la hegemonía y la identidad. Solo así sus nombres del presente podrían ser democracia poshegemónica, populismo, comunismo del hombre solo, transversalidad, institucionalismo republicano, o división de poderes…

 

 

 

Notas

  1. David Soto Carrasco. “Una patada al tablero”. http://www.eldiario.es/murcia/murcia_y_aparte/patada-tablero_6_516958335.html
  1. Giorgio Agamben. Il fuoco e il racconto. Nottetempo, 2014.
  1. Alberto Moreiras. “Comentario a ‘una patada al tablero’, de David Soto Carrasco. https://infrapolitica.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/comentario-a-una-patada-al-tablero-de-david-soto-carrasco-por-alberto-moreiras/
  1. Ver, “Dossier: The End of the Progressive Cycle in Latin America” (ed. Gerardo Muñoz, Alternautas Journal, n.13, 2016). Ver en particular la contribución de Salvador Schavelzon sobre las alianzas en Brazil, “The end of the progressive narrative in Latin America”. http://www.alternautas.net/blog?tag=Dossier
  1. José Luis Villacañas. “En La Morada”: “Es posible que lo que yo llamo republicanismo no sea sino la mirada propia de un senior de aquello que para alguien más joven es populismo. La res publica también provoca afectos, como el pueblo, aunque puede que los míos sean ya más tibios por viejos. Su gusto por las masas es contrario a mi gusto por la soledad. Yo hablo en términos de legitimidad y ellos de hegemonía; yo de construcción social de la singularidad de sujeto, y ellos de construcción comunitaria; yo de reforma constitucional, y ellos de conquistas irreversibles; yo de carisma antiautoritario, y ellos de intelectual orgánico. En suma, yo hablo de Weber y ellos de Gramsci, dos gigantes europeos. Es posible que una misma praxis política permita más de una descripción. Es posible que todavía tengamos que seguir debatiendo cuestiones como la de la fortaleza del poder ejecutivo, algo central hacia el final del debate. En realidad yo no soy partidario de debilitarlo, sino que sólo veo un ejecutivo fuerte en el seno de una división de poderes fuerte.” http://www.levante-emv.com/opinion/2016/05/17/morada/1418686.html

A Negation of the Anarchy Principle. By Alberto Moreiras.

BloodPure.JPG.-m0-1

 

I go out far away from my home, as a hostage, without ever taking up habitation with you, nor ever being your guest, since you have no residence, but I also thereby fulfill my calling, which is to be at home no longer. (Lyotard, The Differend 115)

A Negation of the Anarchy Principle

(Draft Paper for the Southwest Seminar on Continental Philosophy, College Station, May 2016)

This particular slot at the conference, in our first idea, was to be devoted to a roundtable discussion of Jean-François Lyotard’s posthumous book Logique de Levinas, recently published in France (2015), which brings together some texts on Emmanuel Levinas or around Levinasian themes that complement the section of Lyotard’s Le différend (1983) devoted to the French-Lithuanian thinker.   As you might remember if you have read The Differend, there is a chapter entitled “Obligation,” where Lyotard engages with Levinas and Kant in the fragmented, quasi-aphoristic style that is the mark of that book. In that chapter Lyotard makes some observations that have a bearing on what can conceivably be understood as the ontological difference with a Levinasian twist. Everything has to do with the difference between prescription and description, or with the difference between what Lyotard calls the “ethical phrase (infinity)” and the “speculative phrase (totality)” (Differend 115). Lyotard adds:

When the universe in which you are the addressee entails an addressor instance that is left empty, and is perhaps “absolutely“ not marked, not even by a silence, that is the ethical situation, or the disposition of the universe presented by a phrase of obligation. But that cannot be inscribed into your own experience. For, in this universe, you are presented on the you instance, you are called, but experience and cognition take place in the first person, or at least as a self. What you judge to be the Lord’s call is the situation of you when I is deprived of experience, “estranged,” “alienated,” “disauthorized.” You do not therefore have the experience of the Lord, nor even of alienness. If you were to have that experience, it would not be the Lord, and it would not be ethics. You cannot therefore testify that whatever it is that calls upon you is somebody. And that is precisely the ethical universe. (115-16)

We can suspend for a moment whatever it is that the notion of “ethics” prompts in you. Make no presumptions: Lyotard is pretty fierce in this respect, stating as he does that the “addressor instance is left empty.”   There is no “somebody” on the other side. We have no idea. All we know is that there is a form of discourse, prescriptive, a form of discourse that Reiner Schürmann would have called “imperative” against any notion of merely “indicative” discourse, a form of discourse linked to a “peregrinal ontology.”   We had been thinking about all of this, and we had been linking it to something we started to call the infrapolitische durchbruch, the infrapolitical breakthrough, in connection with Reiner Schürmann’s work on Meister Eckhart (Cf. in particular Wandering 29, 69-73, 87). If “toute pensée n’est pas savoir” (Lyotard, Logique 89), then there was a form of thought whose momentum would be something other than knowledge, non-denotative thought, responsive thought, indeed imperative thought.   The reflection was pretty simple: prescription obligates not by referring to truth or falsity. It obligates in terms of what is just. But prescription is not politics, even if politics, in its democratic instantiation, which is the only possible one since non-democratic politics is merely a game of interests, business not politics, is also about the just. Where is the difference? Democratic politics must universalize its procedures, must turn all decisions into a norm valid for all. Infrapolitics does not universalize, does not normativize. It provides no knowledge.   Is it therefore an “ethical praxis” in the Lyotardian sense?

When we thought of organizing a conversation on Lyotard’s Logique de Levinas we were just coming out of a workshop we organized here in College Station (in January of this year) on the work of Reiner Schürmann where some of those problems were discussed, and we figured there would be something in the new Lyotard book we needed to pursue (none of us had read the book at the time, so this was only a guess, more or less informed.) To sum it up briefly, we anticipated Lyotard’s comments on Levinas might have something to tell us of importance for our ongoing project on marrano infrapolitics, on posthegemonic infrapolitics, and we thought they might even correct or help correct some particularly significant issues in Schürmann’s work that we imagined needed correction. That was the initial hypothesis, on the basis of which we made our proposal. Unfortunately the idea of the roundtable had to be dismantled: two of our copanelists announced they would be unable to make it to this conference, and Dan Conway suggested it would be better, then, if Marco Dorfsman and I simply read more normal papers in two different time slots.

Of course, for better or for worse from your point of view, this gave both Marco and me more time. I have decided to use my time, now 45 minutes as opposed to 10 or so, to be as clear as possible about some of the questions that were on my mind at the time of the initial plan.   Let me, then, before getting into what I think might be the heart of Lyotard’s posthumous book (and you must remember this could be a heartless book, an unfinished book, nothing more than the dream of an editor, since Lyotard himself had no idea such a book would be published under his name—but I like unfinished work, or rather: I suspect all finished work), let me point out some of the considerable problems Reiner Schürmann’s work brings to the project of infrapolitics. I will do this, and then I will try to offer some ideas from Lyotard’s book that I think might help us. The obvious caveat is: Lyotard’s book will get little time in my explanation, I will only be able to indicate some themes for further scrutiny and reflection on the basis of the first part of Logique de Levinas, that is, the essay titled “Logique de Levinas” (19-74). There would be more to say, but that should be enough in terms of the discussion, which is what I want (I do realize most of you have not even heard of infrapolitics, might not know what they could be about, and of course there is no proper time to clarify it. But perhaps, just perhaps, you might get a glimpse of it by following the set of problems that we are trying to grapple with, or better put: that I am trying to grapple with in solidarity with a collective thinking endeavor.)

 

II.

At the end of Heidegger on Being and Acting: From Principles to Anarchy (286-89), Reiner Schürmann explicates four “Consequences for the Direction of Life.”   I will address all four of them, all four of those consequences, looking not for exhaustivity in terms of Schürmann’s own considerations, rather in terms of their problematic relevance for infrapolitics. Schürmann suggests, of course, that his Heidegger interpretation imposes some obligations on the thinker.   I will attempt to describe infrapolitical obligations in disagreement with the alleged “consequences” Schürmann posits regarding Heideggerian thought. One could say that we are simply disputing the Heideggerian legacy, and I do not wish to contest that. Perhaps that is indeed all we are doing.

First disagreement (I am sorry about the long quotation): Schürmann mentions a “heuristic” function in Being and Time’s concentration on “everyday activities” in view of the need to establish a “fundamental ontology.” But, beyond the establishment of a fundamental ontology, he says,

there is another priority of praxis in Heidegger, which appears as early as in Being and Time and which remains operative throughout all of his work: to retrieve the being question from the point of view of time, a certain way of life is required. To understand authentic temporality, it is necessary to ‘exist authentically;’ to think being as letting phenomena be, one must oneself ‘let all things be;’ to follow the play without why of presencing, it is necessary ‘to live without why.’ Here the priority of praxis is no longer heuristic . . . According to the mainstream of the metaphysical tradition, acting follows being; for Heidegger, on the other hand, a particular kind of acting appears as the condition for understanding being as time. Here praxis determines thinking. In writings subsequent to Being and Time, it is suggested that this praxis is necessarily of a political nature. (287)

There is, then, the call for a certain way of life according to which acting is a precondition of understanding, and praxis determines thinking. This second (non-heuristic, non-cognitive) priority of praxis is fundamental to the infrapolitical constellation, which emphasizes it and names it “existential.”  A praxis of existence—not a politics, not an ethics, certainly not a disciplinarization or institutionalization of existence, which is the reason why infrapolitics breaks and must break with university discourse—opens the way to infrapolitical reflection to the very same extent infrapolitical thought cannot be premised on anything but a specific relation to existence.

But Schürmann all too quickly says: “this praxis is necessarily of a political nature.” Why is that? Whether Heidegger himself indicated the possible political relevance of this existential understanding of praxis is probably irrelevant for infrapolitics, but it may not be irrelevant regarding the fundamental thrust of Schürmann’s interpretation.   There is, in or behind the attribution to the late Heidegger of a (reluctantly) “anarchic” political drift, an assumption perhaps essential to the work of Schürmann that I would not share: that changes in thinking, in order to be relevant, are necessarily epochal, that is, historical or historial (even if, at a certain point, under the hypothesis of the closure of metaphysics, their epochal or historial stance would mark, according to Schürmann, the end of epochality, the end of epochal history), and, as epochal, they reach and affect and shape and force the compliance of the totality of the political collectivity as such.   In other words, the supposition is that the discovery of a non-heuristic, non-cognitive praxis of existence must become “political” in order to be hearable or in order to reach the dignity of historial presence—that, indeed, there is no historial presence without political relevance, and viceversa.

Schürmann names his own political practice “anarchy.” For Schürmann “anarchy,” on his terms, is not the singular choice of a thinker but rather the offspring of the contemporary economy of presencing with which the (contemporary) thinker should comply.   Anarchy would be a paradoxical nomos at the end of principial (metaphysical) epochs, at the end of the time of metaphysical epochs. “The nomos or injunction always and everywhere determines the oikos, the abode of man” (235). But I would like to argue that there is a certain ultimate incoherence in claiming both that thinking presupposes a particular exercitium that belongs to the thinker’s singular existence (a change in the direction of life, the obligation of a non-heuristic, non-cognitive praxis before understanding, an existential immersion in existence), and that thinking only lives through attunement to a nomic or temporal presencing that affects everyone. This is the first of the problems I wanted to point out regarding infrapolitics.   Infrapolitics affirms that changes in the direction of life do not have to become historial or epochal, do not have to become “political,” in order to appear as obligations, hence already dramatically relevant for the endeavor of thought.

The second problem follows from the first. Schürmann says: “Being can be understood as time only through its difference from history. The investigation into the concrete epochs and their regulation is what binds the later Heidegger’s phenomenology to experience. Since this is, however, not an individual’s experience, the issue of phenomenology proves to be political in a broad sense. An economy of presence is the way in which, for a given age, the totality of what becomes phenomenal arranges itself in mutual relations. Any economy is therefore necessarily public” (287). The politicality of epochs has to do with the fact that epochs force an order of the visible (things, words, actions) into an order of domination. Principial epochs guarantee the domination of the principle as hegemonic domination (at the time of modernity, for instance, subjectivism dominates hegemonically, and it dominates all orders of existence: politically as well as philosophically or artistically, and in any other register of cognition).   But Schürmann’s distinction between history and time prepares his affirmation of an end of epochal history that opens the visibility of presencing as non-domination.

At the end of the cycle of principial epochality, where we hypothetically are (this is “the closure of metaphysics”), the thinker can move or prepare the way for anarchy as non-domination. But the politicality of the thinker is then either prophetic or it has the character of a historical vanguard.   In both cases it appears as messianic, as it incorporates and enables a promise (the “early” correspondence of the thinker, as response to an incipient unconcealing presencing, is a commitment to and an announcement of a general dispensation to come, a dispensation that, on becoming general, becomes political as well).   The thinker appears in this account as the vanguard of history, as a preparer, as a harbinger. The thinker is still, in this account, a world-historical figure, a hero in a sense that becomes hardly distinguishable from the Hegelian determination of the hero. Infrapolitics must take exception. Infrapolitics prefers to consider its own time, which is the time of posthegemony, as the deconstruction of all political legitimation, including the preparatory, anticipatory, or transitional legitimation of a purported, posthistorical economy of presencing of universal reach. Infrapolitics gives up on preparatory thinking (it is, in that sense, a non-messianic thinking of the now-time) as it refuses the distinction between history and time.

The exposition of the third problem requires another fairly long quotation:

The hypothesis of closure results from the reduplication ‘will to will’ substituting itself for the difference ‘being and entities.’ Enframing, then, is not like any other principle. It is transcendence abolished. Total mechanization and administration are only the most striking features of this abolition and reduplication, of this loss of every epochal principle; a loss that, as Heidegger suggests, is happening before our eyes. (288)

For Schürmann technology would be “the age without a beyond” (285) that terminates the epochal cycle, the history of being.   He claims that, at the end of the epochs, “originary time” resurfaces into a presencing no longer to be understood as the constant presence of the metaphysical dispensation.   Responding to originary time—the worlding of the world, the thinging of the thing—is what the thinker today prepares: “to think is to follow the event of presencing, without recourse to principial representations” (286). But the withering away of epochs needs not be thought of as the welcoming of an unepochal dispensation, about which we know nothing and we experience nothing others may not have also known and experienced in any of the previous transitional times. Infrapolitics makes no claim that its claim is a claim about the end of history as such, the end of epochality, it makes no claim about the singular experience of time it enables, it makes no claim that others, our ancestors, in their epochal perplexity and delusion, were stuck in a deadend the will to will has now cleared by opening up, through its very intensification, an inaugural glimpse into an entirely other time, the time of non-epochal or non-historial history. Infrapolitics remains content with its affirmation of a “simple dwelling” in the here and now, instead of thinking of itself as the promoter of a “step into the blue” (284) at the abyssal end of the history of being. Another way of putting this, maybe, would be to say that the time of infrapolitics is always the time of what Schürmann refers to as “the legislative-transgressive fracture” or double bind (Broken 25), a posthegemonic time that refuses legislation without transgressing it into an alternative one.

And, as to the fourth problem, Schürmann says: “Poein kata phusin . . . Thinking is essentially compliant with the flux of coming-to-presence, with constellations that form and undo themselves. To think is to follow the event of appropriation, to follow phuein” (289). Schürmann proposes two master terms for such compliance: non-attachment and releasement, both taken from Heidegger in specific reference to Meister Eckhart. There is certainly a difference between submitting to ordering principles and “acting according to presencing,” in compliance with the worlding of the world and the thinging of the thing.   But who guarantees the public, collective, universal compliance with the second under the guise of the (transitional) principle that there are no principles?   A second-order hegemony, in this case presumably guaranteed by the thinkers and the poets to come, is no better than the pedestrian economy of the principle.   Infrapolitics prefers the suspension of compliance, not out of any fundamental suspicion towards the mysterious dispensations of the fourfold, rather out of a fundamental suspicion of its interpreters.   Letting-be is infrapolitically to be thought of as, indeed, existential releasement for the sake of a radical attachment to the free singularity of existence, which is therefore also an un-attachment to everything else. Letting-be is not to be thought of, infrapolitically, as the secret hegemony of the thinkers and the poets to come.

Let me sum up the four disagreements, which are disagreements regarding Schürmann’s drawing of consequences after his otherwise admirable interpretation of Heideggerian thought.   They all amount not to a rupture with Schürmann’s thought, rather to its infrapoliticization. Schürmann’s Heidegger interpretation remains all too political—that is in a sense both its strength and its weakness. They have to do with the structure of obligation.   Against Schürmann, first disagreement, the obligation of thought, as regards infrapolitics, is not an obligation of a historico-political nature; the obligation of infrapolitical thought, second disagreement, is not of the order of the heroic, and it cannot be, as it does not found itself on a difference between time and history that necessarily turns history into a site of cognitive dispensation as opposed to the mere existentiality of the time of life; infrapolitical obligation, third disagreement, does not depend upon the final catastrophe of the principle that kills all principles, technology or the will-to-will as the unintentional provider of originary time, and infrapolitical obligation does not respond to the event of postechnological presencing, it is fond of no steps into the blue, and it does not like to fall into any unthinkable abyss of the “not-beyond;” finally, infrapolitical obligation, fourth disagreement, does not claim to breach the path for universal compliance with the presencing of the fourfold, the worlding of the world, or the thinging of the thing.   Infrapolitical obligation, through those disagreements which are perhaps better to be understood as a negation of the premise, appears as a much more modest endeavor. We could sum them all up into the negation of the principle of anarchy as exposed by Schürmann, to which I now turn.

 

III.

The complicated conjunction between “principle” and “anarchy” is motivated, for Schürmann, on the alleged or suspected fact that the so-called “hypothesis of metaphysical closure,” and the consequent loss of any recourse to principles or principial thought, do not immediately condemn us to an a-principial world, since, on the “transitional” line, at the line but not beyond the line, we can only think, our language can only offer us to think, the lack of a recourse to principles through the painful enunciation of the principle of anarchy, the principle of non-principles. The principle of anarchy would necessarily be a precarious phrase—no principle if anarchy, no anarchy if principles; and yet, there is a principle of anarchy as a placeholder for an unthinkable time to come where anarchy would dissolve the principiality of any principle, including itself as principle. This is not a trivial affair. If, as Schürmann establishes at the end of Broken Hegemonies, a hybristic insistence on the maintenance of principles as constant presence equals something like (non-ethical, non-moral, but nevertheless overwhelming) evil, the principle of anarchy might also be considered historial evil—is it not after all a reluctant recourse to principles in the last instance, in the very face of the absence of principles? Is it not a desperate clinging to the principle—an irremediable and yet radically bogus extension of its presence—under the ruse of anarchy?   How are we to negotiate the ultimate catastrophe assailing the hypothesis of closure? Would the principle of anarchy be a bite into evil, apotropaic or not, but in any case fundamentally the largest kind of bite, to the extent that it knows itself as evil?

I do not mean to answer that question (or perhaps I will answer it without meaning to). Let me only point out a curious circumstance. Emmanuel Levinas, whose work could be considered committed to the awakening of goodness in his sense, published Otherwise than Being in 1974. His Chapter 4 opens with a section on “Principle and Anarchy” (Otherwise Than Being, 99-102). It could be expected that any posterior attempt at dealing with the “and” in Levinas´ phrase would refer back to that work and those pages—and to the rest of the Levinasian chapter those pages initiate. And yet Schürmann’s Heidegger on Being and Acting, whose original French title was and is Le principe de l’anarchie (1982), devotes only one footnote to Levinas (in the English translation, page 346, on the difference between originary and original Parmenidism, which will not concern ua), and, let us say, half of another one, whose main thrust is intended as a sharp critique of Jacques Derrida. Let me quote that section of the second footnote: “Among the company of writers, notably in France, who today herald the Nietzschean discovery that the origin as one was a fiction, there are those who espouse the multiple origin with jubilation, and this is apparently the case with Deleuze. There are others who barely conceal their regret over the loss of the One, and this may indeed be the case with Derrida. It suffices to listen to him express his debt to Lévinas: ‘I relate this concept of trace to what is at the center of the latest work of Emmanuel Lévinas,’ Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, p. 70. The article by Emmanuel Lévinas to which he refers announces in its very title—‘La trace de l’autre,’ the Other’s trace—how far Derrida has traveled from his mentor. For Derrida, the discovery that the ‘trace’ does not refer back to an Other whose trace it would be is like a bad awakening: ‘arch-violence, loss of the proper, of absolute proximity, of self-presence, in truth the loss of what has never taken place, of a self-presence which has never been given but only dreamed of,’ ibid., p. 112” (Schürmann, Heidegger on Being and Acting, n. 44, 321-22).

As you have just seen, there is no mention of Levinas’s take on “principle” and “anarchy,” on on “principle and anarchy,” unless we extend the intended critique of Derrida into an indirect critique of Levinas’ notion of the trace, as referring to an Other understood as neighbor, as always already nostalgic of the pure presence of the One. If so, there would be a terminal disagreement at the level of conceptualization.   But the footnote does not really warrant it. In fact, the footnote might on equal or even hermeneutically superior grounds be taken to be an endorsement of the Levinasian position against the Derridean “bad awakening.”   In that case Schürmann would be approving, or not disapproving, of the Levinasian notion of the trace as strictly the trace of the Other.   But what about Schürmann’s relation with “principle and anarchy” as Levinas discusses it?

For Levinas, and please forgive me if I do nothing but cover some basic ground here, “consciousness” does not exhaust the horizon of Being and should not be, against modernity, considered the Being of beings. Or perhaps it can, but then the positing of a non- or me-ontological region (from the Greek “me,” meaning “non”), beyond Being, certainly beyond consciousness, becomes obligatory.   Within that structure, “principle” is very much on the side of consciousness: in fact, subjectivity is the principle invoked in the phrase “principle and anarchy, as the following quote attests:

Being a theme, being intelligible or open, possessing oneself, losing itself and finding itself out of an ideal principle, an arché, in its thematic exposition, being thus carries on its affair of being. The detour of ideality [Levinas has just said that ‘even an empirical, individual being is broached across the ideality of logos,’ 99] leads to coinciding with oneself, that is, to certainty, which remains the guide and guarantee of the whole spiritual adventure of being. But this is why this adventure is no adventure. It is never dangerous: it is self-possession, sovereignty, arché. (99

If there were to be an “spirituality” beyond “the philosophical tradition of the West,” it would have to be found beyond consciousness, that is, beyond always already archic being.   It would be the place of “anarchy.” Of a dangerous and adventurous anarchy.

Anarchy is presented by Levinas as a persecution and an obsession. “The subject is affected without the source of the affection becoming a theme of representation” (101); “Anarchy is persecution. Obsession is a persecution where the persecution does not make up the content of a consciousness gone mad; it designates the form in which the ego is affected, a form which is a defecting from consciousness. This inversion of consciousness is no doubt a passivity—but it is a passivity beneath all passivity” (101).   Far from being a hypertrophy of consciousness, it hits us as irremediable and always unwelcome trouble. It comes from outside. It is not domesticable, tamable, it admits of no reduction to arché. It is an absolute passion: “This passion is absolute in that it takes hold without any a priori” (102). Do we want it? But that question is only a question posited to consciousness, to the archic.  Beyond consciousness we cannot resist it, and that is all there is to it.

Anarchy is the unconditional call that befalls us from the Other, or the other, whatever that may be, the dismantling of any archic certainty, the dismantling of the principle of consciousness or consciousness as principle. What is it, specifically? Levinas calls it “a relationship with a singularity” (100).   It therefore irrupts from a “proximity” we cannot organize or measure, and it is a proximity beneath all distances (“it cannot be reduced to any modality of distance or geometrical contiguity,” 100-01). It is the “trace:” “This way of passing, disturbing the present without allowing itself to be invested by the arché of consciousness, striating with its furrows the clarity of the ostensible, is what we have called a trace” (100).

Is this in any way commensurate to Schürmann’s thought of the principle of anarchy?   Does it come under the possible indirect critique in his footnote? Yes, without a doubt, the Levinasian anarchy is “arch-violence, loss of the proper, of absolute proximity, of self-presence, in truth the loss of what has never taken place, of a self-presence which has never been given but only dreamed of.” Schürmann’s critique may hint at the notion that any surprise in this regard, such as the Derridean one, would be always naïve or feigned. It is true that Levinas makes it dependent on the encounter with the other as neighbor (“What concretely corresponds to this description is my relationship with my neighbor,” 100).   This is what Derrida is said to depart from, and what Schürmann seems perhaps, in our second reading, to take for granted as correct. But it is difficult to judge here whether Schürmann’s acceptance of the notion of the trace as necessarily the trace of the face of the other in me, as face, that is, as human referent, is exclusive, in the sense that it would preempt an expansion of the trace referent. In fact, it does not seem it could be so. The irruption of anarchy would not for Schürmann, any more than for Derrida, be reducible to an encounter with human otherness, even if the encounter with human otherness could trigger it every time, or some times, also as a persecution and also as an obsession. In Levinas the persecutory obsession of relational anarchy does not seem to be triggered by unspecified being, by being in general, or by Being as difference, it would not seem to be triggered by, for instance, the “legislative-transgressive predicament” of a transitional time—it is always, it seems, a relationship with a singularity that does it, with an entity—the widow, the orphan, the neighbor—that poses a demand and imposes an obligation. We have already seen Lyotard’s intended correction to the restrictive interpretation of ethical otherness in The Differend (see above)—for Lyotard the addressor may not be “somebody,” may be absolutely unmarked.

But, leaving Levinas’ ultimate position aside, there is something else in Schürmann’s gesture of (non)citation that should be questioned.

Schürmann, by invoking the principle of anarchy as the political response in transitional times to the absence of metaphysical principles in metaphysical closure, seems to naturalize, hence disavow, the persecutory aspect of me-ontological anarchy by positing (displeased) surprise at Derrida’s feigned surprise and celebrating Deleuze’s jubilation in the face of it.   As if there were nothing particularly painful in being thrown over to an anarchic relation as radical obligation.  As if, therefore, the resources of subjectivity—the subjectivity of the thinker—were or could be enough to keep the dangerous adventure of anarchy at bay, under control. The Schürmannian principle of anarchy could then be thought to be still the subjective reaction to the epochal dismantling of ontology (as metaphysics). But, if so, the principle of anarchy emerges, plainly, as principle, and principle of consciousness.   Anarchy runs the risk of becoming yet another form of mastery, or rather: anarchy, as principle, is the last form of mastery.  At the transitional time, posited as such by the hypothesis of metaphysical closure, metaphysics still runs the show as consolation and consolidation.   But this may not be good enough.   It is not exposure but counterexposure. It is reaction, taming, and re-enclosure. Let us now see if Lyotard’s unfinished work on Levinas can help us with it.

 

Against the so-called “Hegelian persecution” (Logique 19), Lyotard finds in Levinas the claim “the self does not proceed from the other; the other befalls the self” (24).   The ethical phrase depends on the radical exteriority that Hegel’s phenomenology must dismiss: “the demand of the exteriority of the exterior-interior relation is no less required for ethical discourse than the demand of the interiority of the same relation is required for phenomenological deployment” (27). In Hegelian terms, the speculative approach would concern the true and the false, whereas the non-speculative engagement—discourses on justice, on aesthetics—would be relegated to “discursive arts” such as morals or politics, literature or rhetoric.   But Levinas inverts the terms and wants to claim that philosophy, as first philosophy, “does not consist in describing the rules that determine the truth or falsity of statements, but rather those that determine their justice or injustice” (29).   The game is served. It has to do with establishing a philosophical procedure on prescriptions not descriptions. And it is prescriptions that introduce the anarchy that, without them, would be merely whimsical.

Lyotard says:

An expression like “Welcome the stranger!” . . . must be valid not because it can be inferred from previously accepted statements, or because it would conform to more archaic propositions, rather from the only fact that it is an order that has its authority in itself. It is therefore in some way a command of command. In particular the considerable importance Levinas attaches to the idea of anarchy resides in the refusal to infer normative statements. And it is also there where his attacks on ontology, not just Heideggerian but also for instance Spinozist, find their strength: ontology would only be another word for a metalanguage of descriptive statements. (37-38)

Of course the thinker that did the most of the attempt to deal with prescriptions rather than descriptions in the philosophical tradition was Kant, whose notion of the categorical imperative in the second Critique is ostensibly conceived of as an imperative.   But Lyotard shows how the Kantian second Critique unguts the anarchy of the Kantian imperative by referring it on the one hand to a causality (freedom) and on the other hand by referring it to the need for universal consensus, for normativization (40-60).   Levinas, against all of that, would have attempted to pursue the thought of an obligation never convertible into a norm.

Norms pass through their understanding before they can force action, whereas obligations prompt action before understanding.   In the latter case, obligations follow the Schürmannian specification of the non-heuristic, non-cognitive praxis, and bring the issue into the region of existential infrapolitics.   Infrapolitics must reject what Lyotard terms, following Levinas, “the infatuation of the Self in knowledge” (65). The interruption of the domination of knowledge, that is, of the infatuation of the descriptive statement, is a precondition for infrapolitical exercise. Does it turn infrapolitics into an “ethical phrase”?   “Do not let ‘you’ ever become ‘I’” (73) is the prescription that Lyotard pragmatically extracts from his analysis: a prescription cannot be tamed into description. For Lyotard, the incommensurability between obligation and enunciation is also the incommensurability between the freedom of the sovereign subject and becoming-a-hostage to the addressor. And Lyotard says: “but the ethical and political question does not begin with the question of liberty where the I plays, it begins with the obligation that seizes the you. Not with the power to announce . . . , but with the other power, which is in the West an impotence, which is to-be-required-for . . .” (73).

Is infrapolitics a praxis outside the universe of knowledge? Is this characterization, seized by the power of unconditional obligation to no known addressor, consistent with our four disagreements with Schürmann’s Heidegger interpretation?   And what of the anarchy principle?   But there is no anarchy principle that does not turn anarchic persecution into a norm, that does not turn anarchic obsession into a universalizable duty.   It is indeed possible that the universe of politics and ethics, that the universe of ethics and politics, begin in the obligation imposed by an unknown exteriority on the you.   But it is also possible, if not necessary, that, before ethics and politics, another discursive instance is interposed—that which refers to the infrapolitical acknowledgement of an addressor without referent that turns every possible solipsism and every possible infatuation into a practice of existence.

Alberto Moreiras

Texas A&M University

 

 

Works Cited

Levinas, Emmanuel. Otherwise than Being, or Beyond Essence. Alphonso Lingis

trans. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991.

Lyotard, Jean-François. The Differend. Phrases in Dispute. Georges Van den

Abbeele trans. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1988.

—. Logique de Levinas. Paul Audi ed. Paris: Verdier, 2015.

Schürmann, Reiner. Broken Hegemonies. Reginald Lilly trans. Bloomington:

Indiana UP, 2003.

—. Heidegger on Being and Acting: From Principles to Anarchy. Christine Marie-

Gros and Reiner Schürmann transl. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1990.

—.   Wandering Joy. Meister Eckhart’s Mystical Philosophy.   Grand Barrington MA:

Lindisfarne Books, 2001.

 

 

 

 

Comentario a “Una patada al tablero,” de David Soto Carrasco. Por Alberto Moreiras.

http://www.eldiario.es/murcia/murcia_y_aparte/patada-tablero_6_516958335.html

David, muy interesante. Para mí el hecho de que, como tú dices, “la izquierda” ya no sea en la situación presente un referente determinante, y que la transversalidad es lo único que asegura capacidad de invención, es incompatible con la referencia exclusiva o dominante a Gramsci y a la teoría de la hegemonía. Lo que está en juego en el país es la invención de una alternativa posthegemónica, pero nadie parece querer darle ese nombre: y eso es una limitación de la invención. Y el problema: mientras la justificación ideológica de lo que está pasando se acoja todavía al término gramsciano, e incluso se radicalice en la invocación a lo plebeyo, lo subalterno, o “los de abajo,” como tú dices en tu artículo, la indecisión seguirá, y serán posibles movimientos reactivos.

La alternativa a la noción gramsciana de bloques históricos es la noción de fuerzas populares. Es lógico que esta última sea la invocación necesaria, puesto que lo popular se enfrenta a la casta, a los expropriadores, etc. Y de ahí a la noción de populismo como frente común hay sólo un pequeño paso. Por eso es necesario aceptar la construcción populista como elemento movilizador. Lo fundamental–esto está claro en el libro de José Luis Villacañas (que está comentado más abajo en este blog), y nosotros llevamos tiempo discutiéndolo–es lo que pasa después del “asalto a los cielos.” ¿Cómo se instala uno en el cielo? Posthegemónicamente, o el cielo se nos va al infierno.  Ha pasado ya.  Mira Venezuela. No es un capricho terminológico: la teoría hegemónica puede cambiar todo sin cambiar realmente nada, simplemente invirtiendo el signo del poder. Por ejemplo, los mecanismos de expropiación y dominación biopolítica podrían seguir perfectamente en su sitio, con modificaciones sólo de agentes y pacientes, bajo un gobierno Podemos-IU sólo o mayormente ocupado en la consolidación hegemónica.

La posthegemonía trae consigo implicaciones cuya discusión es necesaria y crucial para cualquier posible invención democrática real en nuestra época. La idea propuesta es que la hegemonía funciona como lógica formal de la política en el sentido de que permite o garantiza el acceso al poder, pero que la hegemonía no puede ser el contenido mismo de la política. Esta es la crítica que yo le hacía al libro Fuerzas de flaqueza de Germán Cano (también hallable más abajo en el blog), pero a través de él a toda la ideología hegemonista, esto es, gramsciana, de Podemos. Pensada así, la construcción de hegemonía es movilizadora, permite el “asalto a los cielos,” pero impone la consideración fundamental de qué pasa una vez ese asalto se ha consumado. El libro de José Luis dice con toda contundencia que el populismo no sólo no está preparado sino que su mismo ser consiste en la despreparación activa, la denegación misma de ese problema, y por eso el populismo es “política para idiotas.” La posthegemonía propone pensar ese “día después” desde posiciones, efectivamente, republicanas, “multitudinarias” en cierto sentido (pero no en el sentido de Negri-Hardt, a mi juicio), demóticas, antiverticalistas, antiidentitarias (por eso a mí lo de “plebeyización,” que es una construcción de identidad, no me gusta), en última instancia democráticas.

Mi diferencia con José Luis sería entonces que no es una cuestión Weber vs. Gramsci, aunque ambos importen decisivamente en cuanto los dos proponen teorías de legitimación política que pueden verse como suplementarias mutuamente. Lo que está en juego es más bien la liberación infrapolítica respecto de lo político como el sustento mismo de la aspiración democrática en la época de la subsunción real de la sociedad al trabajo. Y esto requiere invención más que atención a lo antiguo, me parece.

 

 

Can the poem be thought? on Marco Dorfsman’s Heterogeneity of Being. (Gerardo Muñoz)

Dorfsman Heterogeneity of Being_2016In the last chapter of Heterogeneity of Being: On Octavio Paz’s Poetics of Similitude (UPA, 2015), Marco Dorfsman tells of how he once encountered a urinal in the middle of a library hallway. It was a urinal possibly waiting to be replaced or already re-moved from a public bathroom. The details did not matter as it recalled the origin of the work of art, and of course Duchamp’s famous readymade, originally lost only to be replicated for galleries and mass spectatorship consumption. Duchamp’s urinal, or for that matter any manufactured ‘displaced thing’ reveals the essence of technology, at the same time that it profanes its use well beyond appropriation and instrumentalization. I recall this late anecdote in the book, since Dorfsman’s strategy in taking up Octavio Paz’s poetics is analogous to the dis-placing of a urinal. In Heterogeneity of Being, Paz is de-grounded from the regional and linguistic archive, dis-located from the heritage and duty of national politics, and transported to a preliminary field where the aporetic relation between thought and poem co-belong without restituting the order of the Latianermicanist reason.

Heterogeneity of Being is Dorfsman’s leap (a versuch that gathers also the innate ability for failure in the Nietzschean sense) to cross the abyss of the poetic identity; fleeing from the national-popular frame, as well as from the pitiable origins that enable every ground of transcultural articulation. Against the good intended “–abilities” to “speak on the name of” and in the “place of” the other, Dorfsman offers an exercise in thought. The initial hypothesis is how to assimilate, or render thinkable, an ontology of Pazian poetics in the way of a ‘stimmung’ facilitating the endeavor for thought (12). Heterogeneity of being is nothing more than this, but it happens to be also a stroll around Paz’s poetical constellation– not without accidental turns, missed encounters with transient signatures, interrupted articulations and rhythms – as an attempt to arrest the fold between thinking and the poematic. The poematic is understood here as a strange habitation of sorts; a stanza for the (im)possibilities of thought.

Indeed, the poematic is that which allows a tropology that exceeds the compartmental and sheltered demands of the political, subjective, and ethical drives. Against the temptation of disciplinary binds (which are, after all, signs of university semblance), Dorfsman calls for an incomplete Paz that cannot be an objectified signatory authority, but rather as what unveils the temporality of being (11).

Pazian poetics co-belong with the existential time, since it is a now time (the time of a life), which appears at the gates, without entry, of the culturalist and conventional literary methodologies responsible for the organization of poesis legistlation. Dorfsman is not interested in what we could call a “signatory local scene” of the poetic (“Paz in Mexico” or “Mexico un Paz” – the usual postal-service that is always the currency of exchange) as if the “poem”, as the poet’s standing reserve, could supplement what remains on the side of the unthought or the repressed. (Say an ancient cosmogony, a non-Western mantra, or a temporality that derails the homogeneous or messianic time of the modern). Rather, “Paz” is depository of a heterogeneity of inheritance that fails to assume the form of an identity, a destinial time, and therefore is always “anachronistic and it involves a ghost, a specter” (Dorfsman 18-19).

Laberinto de la Soledad, Postdata, or ¿Águila o sol? attentively read in the initial chapters of the book are displaced from the topical discussion of ‘Mexican identity’ to one of difference and inheritance, or as Dorfsman’s conceptualizes it, of “dif-herencia”, following Derrida’s elaboration of spectrality and heritage in Hamlet-Marx. The temporalization of the poematic allows Dorfsman to unveil in Paz’s thought as a language of dif-herencia that: “is not a concept or a metaphor; it is more like a simile or a pun. It thrives on its ambiguity and imprecision” (23).

Dif-herencia brings to halt the logic of identity and difference, while attending to the exposure of a wound (herida) internal to the process of deappropriation and splitting. Thus, more than drift towards a criollo fictive ethnicity, Paz is reservoir of specters that punctuate through a politico-ethical relation that bring forth responsibility and the practice of witnessing emptying identity formations. Pazian poetic time, suggests Dorfsman, does not inaugurate something like a “national I” or a “principial Mexican inheritance of the letter”, but a dwelling that opens a singular existence and disavows every nomic allowance. Pazian poematicity is an atopic temporal relation with a groundless tradition.

But the heterogeneity of the singular also resists – although “resistance” or “stasis” are not the appropriate words – a negativity that feeds the labor of dialectics. Here Dorfsman deploys along with his concept ‘dif-herencia’ that of ‘similitude’, which could be conceived as nocturnal knowledge or the failure of every effort into constructing a people, an ‘alternative subject’. In his strong reading of Laberinto de la Soledad, contaminated by Heidegger’s expository understanding of the essence of technology, the Mexican essence-problem is turned inside-out as one of masking and simulation. Following Italian philosopher Emanuele Coccia, we could say that in every expository relation one always remains strange or improper [1]. De-attaching the codifications of masks from Christian morality (shame, guilt, or purity), Dorfsman reads a poetical-speak of similitude, where appropriation (of meaning) is de-appropriated in the name of an echo-plurality that is always-already unappropriable threshold for a “modality of truth” (45). In a substantial passage from the third chapter, Dorfsman writes:

“…the revolution, perhaps the most authentic because it set up a confrontation with the interior nothingness of being, only managed to produce a new mask, an institutional mask, the PRI, whose transfigurations and unmasking continue to this day. The chain of identities, Spanish, Indian, Mestizo, Catholic, liberal,….etc, can all be inherited and disavowed, they are all interchangeable and all empty” (47-48).

The poematic in Paz is in the order of the profane, although not because it dwells in the radical historicity of the singular seeking to ‘represent’ or ‘donate’ the real world with measured political action, but because it has no desire in instantiating a historical event (or a new politics). The profanity of the mask vis-à-vis the logic of similitude is a space of potential use that trans-figures the other for becoming. It is a style that is both singular and disjointed. In Dorfsman’s propositional hermeneutics, Paz’s discussion of identity is only preparatory for a de-identification of a singular-plural that destitutes every politics of location, and in fact, all politics of being within history.

Pazian culturalism is dissolved not only in similitude / simulation, but also in the poetic temporality of language. Here, similitude coincides with the event of language itself, making the poetic the very singularity of profanation. In Piedra de sol, Dorfsman reads the verse “unánime presencia en oleaje” in light of Heidegger’s poetological exegesis of Parmenides poem and the poetic universe of Georg Trakl (94-96). But Dorfsman goes further, since for him the Pazian poematic bear witness to the rhythm of singular life (I would also argue of the ‘immanent cause’, although this is not explicitly in the analysis) where the way of language builds its own path or “camino”.

Hence, it is no longer a subject that enacts or wills, but the time of being which against the order of signification, stems from the stasis of language (“en el seno del lenguaje hay una guerra civil sin cuartel”) (97). Crossing tracks with Heidegger and Trakl, Dorfsman’s disobeys the exegetical command of the Pazian archive, only to re-direct it to the spiral of errancy of language. This is the proper region of the poetic temporality or the silence or the simulation in the poem.

The temporality of the poem becomes for Dorfsman the possibility of speaking in language, in the tongue of the other. This is why the end of Heterogeneity of Being should be read as poetic desistence, as the call for a practical exodus from every determination of the poetic arrival in meaning or History for a ‘peal of language’ [102] [2]. The poem, in its exigent silence and means of desistance, opens in this way to thought:

“To say no the world is to flee, to escape, perhaps towards an elsewhere: poetry. At least towards a certain kind of poetry, the kind of hermetic, escapist aestheticism which Paz seems to be attacking but which, paradoxically, he was himself accused of writing. But no, what the poem here says is not no or yes; it a refusal of both. Is it a negation, then? Rather, it is the recognizing of the aporetic status of the world, to which affirmation and negation are irrelevant. The poet hears a call to either affirm or deny, but he cannot place the call.” (109).

It is here, however, where the poematic becomes a problem for thought, as well as an impersonal exigency. This is why it is odd that Dorfsman vacillates in calling Paz’s poetics “mysticism” as temporalizing of language, since it is the mystic reverse what allows for the tracking of silence, for the breathing in of a permanent wound that is its second voice. This is the silent voice that dwells in the event of the calling of thinking, which turns (and the turn here is not just in passing, but indicative of the taking place of language) any iteration of everything unsaid in the event of language [3].

The exodus of the poematic does not lead to the desert but to the nocturnal and illegible knowledge of the pyramid. The pyramid knowledge knows no disclosure. This is where Duchamp’s readymade crosses path with Heidegger’s thought on the essence of technology. This very encounter is pyramidal (or at least triangular: Duchamp-Heidegger-Thing), even if Dorfsman does not attempt the elaboration and keeps it secret. But Dorfsman’s suggests that Duchamp’s painting as philosophy is what speaks (in silence) to the unveiling of modern technology.

The duchampian injunction poses another tactical movement: it radically suspends the modern closure on aesthetics (aisthesis), which entails the ruin of the technology of “critique” (Thayer) for the production of ‘visibility’, of the ‘made visible’. It is only in Duchamp where the Heideggerian maxim “the painting spoke”, earns something like a covert instance of life; or in Dorfsman’s terminology, a poetic similitude. The notion of the poem itself becomes profane simulation of every distance relative between language and world. It through this transfiguration of the power of the dichtung (still a revelatory substitution in the later Heidegger) to the readymade, that a heterogeneity of being ceases to be supplementary to the order of history and of epochal destiny.

And it is at this instant where the poematic touches and falls into the strange welcoming site “where literature, paintings, shoes, and urinals may speak, but their secretions may be otherwise than meaning” (124). This is no longer a region for aesthetics or production, but desistance in language. Perhaps at this point one could say that the poem has conducted an exodus from itself into the inner sense of silence.

 


 

 

 Notes

  1. Emanuele Coccia. Sensible Life: a micro-ontology of the image. Fordham University Press, 2016.
  2. For a take on desistance in the specific context of the Chilean Avant-Garde and the readymade, see Villalobos-Ruminott’s “Modernismo y desistencia. Formas de leer la neo-vanguardia. Archivos de Filosofia, N.6-7, 2011-2012.
  3. Giorgio Agamben. “Il silenzio del linguaggio”. Arsenale Editrice, 1983.

¿Deconstrucción menor? Alberto Moreiras.

IMG_4011[1]

Este es un documento de discusión interna al grupo. Hacerlo público es respuesta a algunas demandas de clarificación sobre qué es lo que está en juego en el proyecto. Espero que ayude—no se trata de ser críptico o de rehusar clarificaciones, sino más bien de no hacer clarificaciones apresuradas que comprometan el proceso de reflexión colectiva. Este documento también es respuesta a la reflexión de Jaime Rodríguez Matos que es comentario a su entrada O Friends, que puede encontrarse más abajo.

Creo que es claro que no puede ni podría nunca haber un “Masonic we of infrapolitics.” Imagino que la sospecha no va tan lejos: la sospecha–y hay que recordar que esa sospecha está muy limitada a cierta gente, no es una sospecha general, es la sospecha de la gente que cree y quiere poder competir con nosotros en algún campo simbólico de batalla–es meramente pensar que hay un “Masonic we” en el grupo que intenta empujar la infrapolítica. Eso, en nuestras condiciones objetivas, es absurdo–nuestras actividades en cuanto grupo, fuera de la discusión interna, se limitan a organizar algunos paneles y algunas reuniones, algunas publicaciones. No hemos hecho más ni tenemos condiciones objetivas de poder académico que nos permitan hacer más, incluso si quisiéramos. Como siempre en estos casos, la sospecha de “Masonic we” es un falso pretexto que permite a los que la usan tenernos a distancia–eso es todo. Y siempre es así. No cabe olvidar lo absolutamente trivial de todo este asunto. En realidad lo que hemos oído y estamos oyendo de algunas personas es simplemente: “no se sabe lo que dicen, nadie entiende nada o se entiende muy poco, por lo tanto lo que dicen no tiene importancia alguna, no para nosotros, no por el momento, no hay que ocuparse de ellos excepto en el sentido de mantenerlos a distancia, porque ya se sabe que son o pueden ser peligrosos.” Esto ha pasado siempre que se plantea algo de carácter teórico en el mundo académico, donde no hay tolerancia excepto para lo siempre ya establecido. Por lo tanto, la única forma efectiva de responder a esto es la que siempre hemos identificado como tal: escribir y publicar, y por supuesto tratar siempre de hacerlo de la mejor forma posible.

Pero tu comentario, Jaime, suscita el otro asunto que es a mi juicio mucho más interesante. Tengo el libro nuevo de Geoffrey Bennington pero no he comenzado a leerlo, y posiblemente no pueda llegar a ello hasta septiembre u octubre, cosa que lamento. Pero por lo que cuentas tú: creo que es cierto absolutamente y siempre lo ha sido que no hay ni puede haber una “politics of deconstruction.” En realidad este pensamiento es fundacional para nosotros, y está inscrito en el nombre mismo del grupo. La deconstrucción permite, sin embargo, el acceso a la infrapolítica, esa es por una parte su radicalidad, y también por otra parte la razón de que el proyecto de infrapolítica emerja desde el primer momento como una consecuencia necesaria de la deconstrucción. En algún momento se habló de si tendría sentido hablar de la infrapolítica como metadeconstructiva, y ayer planteaba yo a propósito de “Philopolemologie” si la infrapolítica busca moverse a un “tercer espacio” que ya no es el de la destrucción heideggeriano-derrideana de la metafísica (no porque sean la misma, sino porque son dos líneas que tienen un punto de partida común en Ser y tiempo y en el acontecimiento Ser y tiempo, aunque diverjan hasta el punto de “ruptura” recíproca). (No hay ruptura sin más, no podría haberla sin cambiar de lengua o abandonar la lengua, pero tampoco se trata de invocar una continuidad infinita de amanuense y copista que sólo pasa a limpio la Palabra.  Pienso en el Nietzsche que decía que no podemos librarnos de Dios si antes no nos libramos de la gramática [y en el libro de Klossowski, Nietzsche y el círculo vicioso, que es en su totalidad una glosa de esa frase, pero que termina en el delirio psicótico.] Por eso no puede haber ruptura. Pero puede haber “ruptura” en el sentido de desplazamiento–como la que Heidegger opera en el texto hegeliano, etc. O como la que Deleuze y Guattari operan, siguiendo a Blanchot y otros, en el texto literario al proponer la idea de literatura menor. Quizás la infrapolítica podría plantearse como deconstrucción menor+.)

La especificidad del proyecto, entonces, hay que pensarla en esa zona gris que atiende a las presuposiciones de la deconstrucción. Igual, me parece, que hay gente que resiste el proyecto (en el sentido específico demaniano de “resistencia a la teoría”) porque el proyecto aniquila sus presuposiciones en el terreno literario o estético, o en el terreno más pedestre de metodologías críticas y así de avance profesional convencional, también puede haber gente que no quiera considerar la posibilidad misma de un entendimiento de la deconstrucción emprendido con el fin de dar un paso atrás, o de pensar lo impensado de la deconstrucción. Por supuesto que esto último es muy difícil, pero conviene también dar por supuesto que esa es la labor propiamente filosófica, que no puede darse nunca en el nivel de la glosa infinita. La pregunta que yo llamaba decisiva ayer es entonces si se hace posible para nosotros pensar lo impensado de la deconstrucción en el sentido de la infrapolítica. Por supuesto para mí no es cuestión de dar una respuesta ahora. Esa es la tarea de los famosos diez años. Si no perdemos tiempo o el norte por el camino, claro.

Una primera presuposición a la que podríamos llamar metodológica es la siguiente–la propongo para discusión. Igual que el texto hegeliano le permite a Heidegger un movimiento de desplazamiento, el texto heideggeriano le permite a Derrida leerlo hacia la deconstrucción, invocando con frecuencia insistente a Heidegger como el polo del desplazamiento mismo. Si esto es así, conviene pensar, incluso axiomáticamente, que hay trazas en el texto de Derrida que nos permitirán a nosotros hacer lo mismo–lo “mismo,” es decir, pensar lo impensado en la deconstrucción. Esa sería la “ruptura” infrapolítica, que es también su “transfiguración.”

No sé si es poco obvio para otros–para mí, es obvio–que todos los gestos relevantes de nuestra reflexión en los últimos dos años se han movido en esa dirección.

 

San Camilo, 1936 I: Infrapolitics Par Excellence

Cela, San Camilo

Crossposted from Posthegemony

Camilo José Cela’s San Camilo, 1936 opens with a scene in front of the mirror, and consistently returns to this same site of reflection and self-observation. At first, the mirrored gaze brings familiarity, perhaps a sort of comfort. The English translation has it: “A man sees himself in the mirror and even feels comfortable addressing himself in a familiar way” (3). In the Spanish, though, this is not a particular individual, but a generic, impersonal third person: “Uno se ve en el espejo” (13). This is the way things are in general, at least at first sight: in the mirror, we see ourselves and feel we know what we see. But it is not long before the reflection becomes both more uncertain and more specific, revealing something that perhaps we would rather not see. A second glance is less reassuring: “the quality of the pane is not good and the image that it reflects shows bitter and disjointed features [. . .] maybe what’s happening is that it reflects the astonished face of a dead man still masked with the mask of the fear of death” (3). So by the time the second chapter comes around, also opening with a mirror, the address is both more personal (second person rather than third) and more desolating: “Look at yourself in the mirror and don’t break out crying, it’s hardly worth while for you to break out crying because your soul is already more than damned” (32). And it is not long before the reflection provokes a real ambivalence, the mirror seeming to exert a strange hold on a spectator who can’t bear to look but can’t turn away: “look at yourself in the mirror and escape from the mirror, it’s like a gymnastic exercise, look at yourself in the mirror, escape from the mirror, look at yourself in the mirror, escape from the mirror and so on until you can’t take it any more” (34). And why? Why “are you scared to look at yourself in the mirror?, yes, you’re scared to look at yourself in the mirror, are you afraid of finding the mark of the murderer on your forehead or on your cheeks?, yes, you’re afraid of finding the mark of the murderer on your forehead or on your cheeks” (49). Here as elsewhere, in the novel’s insistent repetitions and reiterations, we end up discovering that what we are returning to is the scene of a crime, a crime in which we are both victim and victimizer, murderer and murdered, the dead and the damned.

The crime, of course, is the Spanish Civil War, and the second-person narrator is both particular and general: it is a young student, about twenty years old; it is Spain; it is all of us. “You, you, you,” the narrative voice addresses himself, but also the reader, in a tone that both strives for self-knowledge and seeks at all costs to avoid it, in what is effectively one long, sprawling denunciation of the murderous desire written on all our faces–or, what is perhaps worse, the nonchalant ignorance and self-preoccupation that allows others to murder in our name. For sometimes it is by looking too hard in the mirror that we miss what is going on elsewhere, the violence that is about to break out without our lifting a finger to stop it. For we are both perpetrators and bystanders to a history that could not take place without us, but which we barely notice, or only indirectly. We are too close to the scene of the crime either to avoid its implications (and our complicity) or to understand them: “Seen from close up history confuses everyone, both actors and spectators, and is always very tiny and startling, and also very hard to interpret” (61). Because ultimately “history is full of Narcissuses” but “it will do no good to run away, do not close your eyes, contemplate your full and true (or full and false) image in the mirror, take advantage of your being as though hypnotized, [. . .] the miracle is not likely to occur but you must not give up that hope” (112). Cela is here returning to the civil war, to the very outbreak of hostilities, recognizing the narcissism involved but unwilling to give up on the miraculous possibility of hope for self-understanding none the less. You can’t look at it directly; but you can’t quite look away. Self-reflection and self-ignorance alike open up to moral quagmires. The best you can do, perhaps, is a gaze that looks aslant: indirect, interrupted, but repeated and insistent.

Hence this novel of the civil war is also somehow about anything and everything but. In the first instance because (at least as the first part comes to a close) the war itself has yet to break out. The conflict is (only) on the horizon; it’s a matter of rumour and fear, potential but not full actuality. We hear of the murder of Lieutenant José Castillo, a Republican policeman–a murder that took place on July 12, 1936. We register the assassination the following day of the right-wing politician José Calvo Sotelo. Who is behind these deaths? Falangists? Communists? Or was Castillo, for instance, merely the victim of a crime of passion? Cela passes on all the various stories that circulate around and try to explain the violence: “Listen, couldn’t he have been hit by a taxi as he was crossing the street?” (68). Meanwhile, off stage, something larger is brewing: “They say there is going to be a military coup to guarantee law and order and to save the Republic” (68). No wonder that fear stalks Madrid, that “the country is nervous, the spark can fly at any moment, maybe it has already flown with these stupid deaths, and the fire, if it breaks out, will be hard to contain” (71). But none of this is shown directly or straightforwardly. For (in the second instance) everything is at the margin of the narrator’s own concerns and preoccupations: with his family, his friends, his girlfriend Toisha, his own anxieties and fantasies about sex and health and the day to day. To put this another way, this is less a political novel than an infrapolitical tale par excellence. Cela’s interest is less in the political shenanigans and conspiracies, or even the broad structural tensions and open conflicts, that lead to the open violence of the war itself, than rather in everything that is not itself directly political but without which politics itself would be unthinkable, unworkable. Hence also the novel’s meandering, nonlinear, repetitive style, a “stream of consciousness” that belongs to no one single individual, but which presents the fragmented reflection of an uncertain, ambivalent multitude that at any moment will be cast as two great forces–Fascist and Loyalist, Right Wing and Left–that are supposedly mutually incommensurable. Cela writes against that political fiction, with all its reductiveness, to give us instead a more complex (non)narrative glimpsed in a distorting mirror for which we are inevitably always on both sides of the divide.

Texto completo entrevista El desconcierto. Por Alberto Moreiras.

http://www.eldesconcierto.cl/cultura-y-calle/2016/05/04/alberto-moreiras-ensayista-y-academico-la-universidad-hoy-es-solo-intemperie/

Aprovecho el blog para poner en él el texto completo de la entrevista de Iván Pinto y Andrés Pereira para El desconcierto, cuyo vínculo está arriba.  (La entrevista publicada fue resumida por los editores por razones de espacio.)

Iván Pinto: Alberto, vienes de un recorrido muy específico, con una serie de libros muy relevantes: Tercer espacio: Duelo y literatura en América Latina (1999), marcado por un momento respecto a los estudios culturales y la post-dictadura. Luego, me parece podríamos detectar un segundo momento con The Exhaustion of Difference (2001) y Línea de sombra. El no sujeto de lo político (2006), ambos libros sin duda están marcando un momento de agotamiento respecto a los estudios de área. Me interesa preguntarte en términos de una evaluación retrospectiva, sobre todo vinculada a la academia.

Alberto Moreiras: Desde mi experiencia personal, es verdad que ha habido un largo proceso que me llevó a mí, y puedo imaginar que también al campo, que yo soy solamente síntoma de un proceso que me trasciende, a una sensación de agotamiento y de fin de espacio discursivo que yo vinculo efectivamente a toda la escena de estudios de área, a toda la escena de latinoamericanismo, a toda la escena del campo profesional, que sigue teniendo una inercia poderosa porque es campo institucional, pero que ha ido perdiendo contenido, ha ido perdiendo urgencia, ha ido perdiendo importancia de forma casi palpable desde fines de los ochenta hasta ahora, que es el tiempo que coincide con mi presencia activa en el campo profesional. Pero esa pérdida se produce de forma mucho más acentuada desde 2001, y podríamos hablar largamente sobre las razones profundas de que esto haya sido así. Mi primer libro, mi tesis doctoral, Interpretación y diferencia (1991), había sido un ensayo deconstructivo o un ensayo sobre la deconstrucción, y supongo que lo que estaba en juego para mí allí era sólo suministrarme una forma de lectura, una posibilidad hermenéutica.

Entonces, mi interés inicial por el estudio de la literatura latinoamericana, en un contexto epocal, se da en el final de la forma de estado nacional popular, antes del alza del neoliberalismo como forma de estado, o coincidiendo con ella, y es lo que lleva a la propuesta de Tercer espacio, que entiende la relación con esa literatura como una relación de duelo, y que intenta entonces pensar la literatura misma como literatura de duelo—lo que interesaba en ella era su propio duelo por la literatura en su forma histórica específica. Algo se estaba perdiendo en los ochenta y eso fue lo que yo traté de capturar, mientras me estaba abriendo también a pensar la postdictadura, cosa que en aquel momento era de enorme importancia, ya desde perspectivas no sujetas a la crítica literaria. Ese libro para mí, que fue sobre todo un intento de apertura al paradigma postdictatorial en general como campo de pensamiento, fue también una expansión, una apertura de horizontes, un abandono del campo de estudios literarios, de estudios del archivo literario. Traté de pensar eso a partir de un trabajo institucional, práctico, donde yo estaba muy metido, de un trabajo universitario propiamente dicho, porque había mucho que hacer para sacar al campo de estudios latinoamericanista de su ghetto y de su inercia y, francamente, de su gran mediocridad institucional, con todas las excepciones particulares que quieras. Le sacrifiqué a ese trabajo tres o cuatro libros por lo menos, mi vida profesional se orientó sobre todo a la organización de conferencias, a la convocatoria de reuniones, a la formación de grupos de trabajo, de colectivos, al trabajo de estudios y de conversación con mis estudiantes y con colegas afines, y no sólo en el campo latinoamericanista o hispanista. Todo eso fue llevándonos, y esto es también epocal, es decir, tiene que ver con las condiciones generales de ese momento histórico, hacia los estudios culturales, hacia las propuestas de estudios culturales, y luego a su radicalización relativa hacia los estudios subalternos latinoamericanos. De ahí sale The Exhaustion of Difference, que es un texto que todavía no está traducido al español. En realidad es un libro también de época, es un libro que, en su mismo título, afirma también cómo habíamos quemado ya la etapa de apertura que ofrecía la noción institucional de campo de estudios culturales y había que pasar a otra cosa: una nueva forma de duelo, quizá, pero ya más bien, más justamente interpretado quizá, el reconocimiento de que estudios culturales no habían conseguido estar a la altura de la tarea del pensamiento en los años noventa.   Eso coincide con el subalternismo como posibilidad perdida—pues el subalternismo latinoamericanista acabó siendo secuestrado por formas caídas del identitarismo y de la politicidad convencional. Esa otra cosa que empezaba a aparecer a finales de los noventa y principios de la década del dos mil era el pensamiento directamente político. Viene con la hegemonía en el campo intelectual de pensadores como Alan Badiou, y Jacques Rancière, con cierta politización en el texto del Derrida tardío, con Agamben, que empieza a ser famoso por entonces, y con Esposito, que está publicando sus primeros libros. También con una más resuelta politicidad directa en gente como Judith Butler y Wendy Brown, y para mí con el encuentro con María Zambrano y Simone Weil y en menor medida Hannah Arendt. Y esa apertura al pensamiento político, en tensión con el pensamiento sobre la cultura y en tensión con el latinoamericanismo, que son mi tradición, mi propia tradición, es lo que lleva a la escritura de Línea de sombra. El no sujeto de lo político, en donde ya se empiezan a iniciar estas preocupaciones de las que hemos hablado hoy de posthegemonía e infrapolítica, que están tematizadas quizás por primera vez desde mi propia obra de forma central ahí. Posthegemonía ya aparecía en Exhaustion pero no infrapolítica, que aparece sin embargo en Línea. En ese momento tengo yo un conflicto institucional fuerte en la universidad que va a causar efectos necesariamente en mi forma de trabajar y en la continuidad de mi trabajo.

Me cambio de país y paso unos años de experimentación con otras formas de pensamiento y con otras lecturas, intento un tanto ingenuo, supongo, de reinventarme a mí mismo, de sacudirme el polvo de los pies después de lo que yo empiezo a entender como una enorme decepción personal tras mi inversión profesional concreta. Pero esa aventura fracasa, y en el 2010 se da la oportunidad de mi regreso a Estados Unidos. En fin, pasan muchas cosas, hay un reencuentro, y hay sobre todo la aparición de nuevas formas de trabajo en red que permiten que el trabajo fundamental que uno hace no dependa ya de la institución en la que uno está. Hay conversaciones intensas y algún proyecto que acaba en callejones sin salida, pero la resaca de todo ello es el nuevo proyecto de infrapolítica y de democracia posthegemónica, que es lo que estamos tratando de llevar a cabo como colectivo. La diferencia fundamental es que este colectivo ya no es un colectivo universitario. Tiene un carácter de colectivo postuniversitario, aunque todos los que estemos en él seamos universitarios, pero paradójicamente ya no hay una vinculación institucional clara, ya no dependemos de institución alguna para llevar adelante el proyecto. Esto ocurre en redes sociales, ocurre en encuentros durante viajes autofinanciados, y tiene claro por lo tanto un carácter de insurgencia con respecto al campo institucional académico, con el que nos manifestamos en ruptura, o en abierto éxodo. En ciertos aspectos que importan, claro, no totalmente, en la medida en que seguimos empleados por instituciones donde tratamos de hacer un buen trabajo y de cumplir con nuestras obligaciones. Pero el proyecto infrapolítico tiene un cierto carácter de insurgencia innegable con respecto del discurso universitario, y yo me atrevería decir que esa es su novedad y su promesa. Y su futuro. Para mí es el proyecto más importante con una genealogía latinoamericanista o hispanista de los últimos treinta o cuarenta años, por dar un número. También es un proyecto que no debe demasiado a otras tradiciones, no es un proyecto que readapta una lengua a otra lengua, sino que piensa por sí mismo desde el principio, y eso es nuevo, me parece—otra cosa es que nos las arreglemos para destruir también su posibilidad, como ha pasado otras veces, como puede haberle pasado a otros.

Para ser más preciso: no se puede evitar cierta reintegración universitaria por el hecho de que la universidad al fin y al cabo es la que nos da tiempo y estudiantes, pero sí que ha habido un paso, desde un compromiso institucional en el que la universidad era el lugar de intervención fundamental en los años ochenta y noventa, a la constatación presente, quizás un poco melancólica, de que hoy la verdadera discusión intelectual, la discusión intelectual libre se produce en espacios que ya la institución no puede ofrecer. Pensar eso es también pensar la historia y nuestro presente.   Pero es mucho más importante darle vía en la infrapolítica a lo que no es meramente negativo (aquello que la infrapolítica no es) sino darle vía a su positividad de pensamiento y de ejercicio, pues eso es lo que puede cambiar nuestra lengua.

Iván Pinto: Muy a propósito de esto y de tu venida al Coloquio la Universidad Posible, planteaste al respecto la idea de una “Universidad imposible”, imposible más bien en el sentido que la universidad “ya no va más”. ¿Cuál es esa universidad que ya no va más para tí?

La universidad que ya no va o da más es la universidad que hay que cerrar como proyecto. Es absurdo tropezarnos, darnos trompadas contra un muro que no se va a romper. Yo hablo de universidades imposibles no como idea utópica, no como paradoja romántica a la que habría que acceder o con la que conviene soñar, sino al revés, como aquello que hay que abandonar, y aquello que si no abandonamos nos hará perder el tiempo sin más. No estoy diciendo que haya que abandonar prácticas de enseñanza. No estoy diciendo que haya que abandonar espacios departamentales o institucionales, y tampoco que haya que simplemente hacerse ausente de cualquier política efectiva que pueda aparecer como posible en algún momento dado, concreto, en la institución en donde estás y donde vives. Lo que estoy diciendo es que nuestra lógica de pensamiento en libertad ya no pasa en términos generales por la institución, pues es la institución misma la que ni la busca ni la quiere. La institución se ha comercializado, se ha corporativizado, y esto no es algo que le haya pasado por casualidad, sino que responde a una formación histórica específica. Esto es un proceso global, no estoy hablando por supuesto de mi propia institución, estoy hablando de la universidad global en general, por supuesto tendencialmente, pues siempre se podrá citar alguna excepción u otra. Entonces para mí la universidad imposible es simplemente la constatación de que en la universidad ya no hay casa. La universidad hoy es sólo intemperie. Y creo que es necesario desplazarse a otro lugar, un lugar en el que tengamos que crear nuestra propia aura. Organizar una arquitectura del desierto, y ponme si puedes arqui- bajo tacha, eso es lo que está en juego ahora en el pensamiento que antes era sin más pensamiento universitario.

Iván Pinto: También viniste a Chile a dar un seminario con Gareth Williams, Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott y Gerardo Muñoz sobre Infrapolítica, y se suma a esto el hecho que la revista “Papel máquina” ha dedicado su última edición a la cuestión. ¿Qué define para ti la intervención “infrapolítica? ¿Cuál es su especificidad como estrategia y/o grupo?

No me gustaría sonar arrogante al decir que yo creo que el proyecto de infrapolítica es una novedad. Pero creo que es una novedad de carácter radical. Incide en los momentos más relevantes del pensamiento contemporáneo. Es decir, precisamente por eso ya no es un trabajo de campo, ya no es un trabajo disciplinario. Tiene relevancia para el trabajo de pensar los problemas más acuciantes de la temporalidad filosófica al menos. Y también de la temporalidad política, diría yo. En ese sentido es una tarea que nos excede, me excede a mí, excede a todo el colectivo. Pero eso le da a nuestro trabajo un carácter de riesgo, de exposición. Cómo pensar sin fetichizar la noción de novedad en el pensamiento, pero cómo pensar a partir de lo que hay, entendiéndolo, y cómo pensar sin reproducir lo que hay. El proyecto de infrapolítica es una forma específica de atender a esas preocupaciones, que yo insisto que tienen relevancia fuertísima para los temas centrales del pensamiento contemporáneo, aunque infrapolítica no se propone como pensamiento central de la contemporaneidad, sino que trata de llegar a la contemporaneidad ya desde una perspectiva marrana, excéntrica, posthegemónica, sin buscar de ninguna forma naturalizar una nueva tendencia, una nueva corriente, una nueva moda. La infrapolítica es un gesto o un estilo, y en cuanto tal no puede copiarse. No nos interesa, por eso tampoco nos interesa, el gesto fácil de definir la infrapolítica, captar adeptos en busca de entusiasmos. No se trata de eso. Nuestra labor es más bien una labor callada, tranquila, sosegada, por más que sea intensa, pero que toma el riesgo fundamental de buscar una palabra nueva, es decir, una nueva posición en el pensamiento. Pero no para llegar a lo nuevo, sino porque lo viejo nos agobia y se nos ha hecho invivible.

Iván Pinto: Una pregunta que estuvo presente en el seminario es el de la política de la infrapolítica. Quisiera preguntarte por ello y por su relación con el contexto latinoamericano actual y lo que podríamos llamar el fin del ciclo “marea rosada”, desde una posición que han ido asumiento como grupo.

Claro, la preocupación por la política de la infrapolítica, que efectivamente ha salido de varias formas en los últimos cuatro días, yo tiendo a asumirla inmediatamente como un intento de entender qué es la infrapolítica. Es un intento de relacionarse con la infrapolítica como algo potencialmente emancipatorio, o si quieres, simplemente útil. Entonces la gente pregunta ‘bueno, ¿pero qué política hay detrás de esa palabra rara que os habéis inventado, qué política hay ahí?’. Y nuestra respuesta sólo puede ser: la infrapolítica no es una política, es precisamente lo que no es política, y busca tematizar lo que no es política en relación con la existencia de todos y cada uno, la existencia común y corriente que es en cada caso la propia. Eso no significa que sea antipolítica y desde luego no significa que no tenga, busque, y quiera una relación con la política. Pero esa relación con la política nosotros la entendemos como suplementaria a la infrapolítica misma. Y ese suplemento, y utilizo la palabra suplemento en el sentido derrideano fuerte (no es una palabra que yo use con ligereza), a ese suplemento nosotros le llamamos “republicanismo demótico”, “democracia posthegemónica”, “populismo marrano”, en fin le hemos dado varios nombres. Ese populismo marrano, que para nosotros es posthegemónico, tiene que ver con el rechazo de la noción teórica de hegemonía como horizonte de la política, pero no como lógica formal de la política. La hegemonía puede entenderse como lógica formal del movimiento político, pero no conviene convertirla en su horizonte.

Para nosotros el pensamiento de Ernesto Laclau, que ha inspirado a tantos políticos importantes y movimientos importantes en la Latinoamérica reciente, sigue siendo relevante, pero como descriptor de la forma de la política, como descripción fáctica de lo que es la articulación política. No pensamos que la articulación hegemónica sea el horizonte de la política, porque la articulación hegemónica es necesariamente una forma de dominación. Y nosotros queremos pensar la política de la libertad, no de la dominación. Le llamamos posthegemonía simplemente a eso: a sustraernos al principio de dominación hegemónica. Y en ese sentido estamos no en desacuerdo sino en desplazamiento con respecto de la mayor parte de las formulaciones teóricas que vinculan los diversos gobiernos de la marea rosada. Incluso pensamos que si los diversos gobiernos de la marea rosada hubieran querido escucharnos, cosa imposible, claro, no habrían caído tan precipitadamente. Puesto que en el fondo lo que está en juego en la posthegemonía es lograr un republicanismo sólido, un republicanismo democrático, duradero y permanente, no fiado a cuestiones de economía desarrollista extractivista, o no fiado a vaivenes en el mercado financiero internacional o a la capacidad de producción de materias primas que tienen un mercado atractivo en un momento dado. Entonces, de nuevo, hay mucho por pensar. Nuestra propuesta no es una propuesta socio-científica, en el sentido de que no estamos ofreciendo programas de gobierno ni plataformas electorales. Estamos simplemente tratando de incidir teóricamente en lo que podría organizar una nueva etapa de la democracia mundial. Ese es el horizonte del intento de pensar la democracia posthegemónica o el populismo marrano.

Andrés Pereira: Al respecto de ello has comentado que se trataría de pensar una suerte de “aprincipialidad” ¿Cómo podríamos entender esto?

En cuanto propuesta política efectiva, es decir, en cuanto suplemento a la noción ateleológica y anormativa de la infrapolítica, pero como propuesta política efectiva, la noción de democracia posthegemónica puede llevar a un programa, porque es una militancia, una forma de militancia, es decir, una forma de asumir el estar políticamente. En cuanto programa y militancia tiene un fin o una meta, pero no en el sentido de que busque la consumación de un principio. Tiene un fin solo en el sentido de que busca o promueve un estado de cosas, busca una relación con la política, y trabaja para ello. ¿Qué significa eso? Significa entre otras cosas y por lo pronto que no queremos que el espacio político se cierre en identitarismos, no queremos que el espacio político se cierre en exclusiones, no queremos que el espacio político se cierre en verticalismos, autoritarismos, en principios de mando, en voluntades de sumisión, en explotación, vengan de donde vengan. Eso es simplemente consistencia con una práctica democrática efectiva, pero no tiene rango de principio, diría yo. Es consistente con la aprincipialidad ateleológica de la infrapolítica en el sentido de que no propone más que un programa para ver si funciona. Y si no funciona, habría que arreglarlo. Y el programa es en ese sentido infinito, o potencialmente infinito. No puede haber una ética de la infrapolítica. La infrapolítica es una forma de moralismo salvaje, digamos. Pero dentro del suplemento democrático posthegemónico sí hay una ética. Es una ética en el sentido de que define modalidades de la práctica, por ejemplo, no se puede ser demócrata y tramar una política sobre el mando, la explotación o la dominación. Tratamos de mantener consistencia en el pensamiento sin imponer normatividades, porque no podríamos, no sabríamos cómo hacerlo, o no nos interesaría aprenderlo.

“O friends …”

“O Friends…” (by Jaime Rodríguez Matos)

A friend (someone who is by no means simply trying to dismiss our work by misrepresenting it in order to declare its insufficiency, someone who is aware of the work that happens explicitly under the term infrapolitics) objects that every time the word infrapolitics is used we might as well substitute it for deconstruction. There is the perception that the insistence on the word infrapolitics is problematic, that something has gone wrong. The wrong turn concerns politics. The objection: once we have deconstructed subjectivity, collectivity, history, and so on, we are no longer dealing with a traditional notion of politics and therefore it might be more of a provocation to call the result “politics.” “Politics,” then, understood as the task of deconstruction (assumed to be the proper but denegated name of infrapolitics), is “the work toward and from the other without ground.” So far the objection.

I find this reaction needs to be made explicit and taken into account if one is interested in considering the existence of the Infrapolitical Deconstruction Collective. It illuminates, inadvertently, to what extent infrapolitics is no longer a continuation of previous theoretical work. It also highlights to what extent the project makes even those in close proximity a little uncomfortable. My aim with these remarks, then, is not necessarily to say anything new, but to make explicit a facet of our project that has been underthematized. Our friends’ objections shed light on some of the more general protestations (sometimes but not always hostile) being made against infrapolitics at the moment. For it is the very refusal to look politics head-on that is at issue. The accusation of a-politicity is made exactly when politics is being questioned most radically. This is important to note if only as a heads-up against any possible question-begging reclamations. The demand for the useful and effective politicity of infrapolitics is possible only by begging infrapolitics to accept presuppositions that are not its own, by begging infrapolitics to destroy itself. That this can happen both in the name of academic discourse and also in the name of political Causes is testament to the non-place that infrapolitics “occupies” at the moment.

Remarks:

  • Steve Buttes recent comments on infrapolitics highlight the extent to which the project can be mistaken as the latest incarnation of a decades long attempt to do theoretical work within Latinamericanism. Following the gesture of John Beverley in Latinamericanism After 9/11, Buttes treats the entirety of Alberto Moreiras’ work, as well as that of scholars associated with him (Patrick Dove, Kate Jenckes, Marco Dorfman), as different instances of a master project geared toward making certain phenomena visible for the fields of Latinamericanism or Political Theory. Everything “theoretical,” regardless of specific circumstance, becomes the work of “the infrapolitical thinker.” This is problematic on more than one front. For one, it fails to see the specific circumstances that led to the emergence of the term. One of the issues at stake, however, concerns the very image of the moment that animates the work on infrapolitics.[1] To put it bluntly: infrapolitics becomes necessary as a project when the theoretical apparatus that informed much of the work that was done in the 1990s and 2000s seems insufficient, or, more radically, when it begins to serve, in many instances, as alibi in maintaining the staus quo regarding the life of an academic discipline like Latinamericanism. It is certainly possible to quote Lacan or Lacanians in order to show how the subject is constitutively divided from itself, but if this is done in the name of producing more readings or contributions to the study of Latin America, then the radical unworking of subjectivity simply serves to prolong the appearance that everything is just fine so far as area studies is concerned. At the same time, this kind of theoretical resourcefulness hides the fact that it is now necessary for “theory” to begin to do theoretical work of its own beyond the masterful reproduction of what is elaborated elsewhere. And this is not simply a question of arrogantly asserting superiority over any archive, but rather of a recognition that, whatever the limitations of our work, it has to begin to push the boundaries imposed by all images of the present that are handed to us regardless of theoretical provenance. (So we are faced with a group of scholars from disparate backgrounds—cultural and literary critics, philosophers, political theorists, etc.—all of whom are faced with the fact that, whatever their credentials, it seems unavoidable to cross into “foreign” disciplinary territory: we lack the paper work that would make us “proper subjects” in those other territories. One way of putting it would be to consider the existence of a trained Hispanist intent on thinking through contemporary global politics by way of a post-deconstructionist notion of the ontological difference.) In a word: it involves acknowledging, and accepting the consequences on our part, that no one is ever recognized as prophet in his own home—which is fine by us, as we deny the possibility of prophesy in the first place, above all when it comes to knowledge of history and politics. For these reasons, the work of the group does not find a ready-made mode of inscription in stable academic frameworks. That resistance to infrapolitics is felt from within (what the “outside” world considers to be just the usual suspects of poststructuralist theory) as well as from without is indication that the claim that infrapolitics simply continues decades long work by a recognizable sector of any field is not quite accurate. One would first need to account for the fact that thinkers who see themselves as deconstructionists (of whatever ilk) find it necessary to situate themselves at a distance (however proximate) from the project as such. This is simply a fact of our situation, not something that has been posited by us. This distance also marks a certain contour of our current situation, and it is not a minor one in my estimation.
  • It would be impossible to do justice to the diversity of approaches that make up the group by pointing to labels such as deconstruction, theory, hermeneutics, posmodernity, subaltern studies, Marxism, pasychoanalysis, political philosophy, and so forth. The line that cuts across all of those terms has a theoretical bent, but it is far from homogeneous and recognizable from the point of view of the current “tool box” approach to academic positionality. But also, and perhaps more important, what is crucial in each one of those cases is that all of those terms are being constantly divided from within: we are heretical in all our theoretical preoccupations. In my own specific case, I have found it perplexing that some label me as a Heideggerian, a Badouian, a Lacanian, and even an old-fashioned literary critic. At the same time historians claim that history is lacking, while literary critics quip that there is too much history keeping me away from the texts. While I can see why that happens, it always results in a reduction that does little justice to what is actually at hand. And more often than not, these acts of labeling go hand in hand with fundamental objections based on the idea that if I am taking Heidegger, or Lacan, or Badiou seriously enough then I should not be doing what I do. These are not simply personal anecdotes regarding my history in the academy: they indicate a fundamental uneasiness when it comes to a certain kind of work that is being done today (not just by me) that refuses the full capture of academic discourse.
  • Why demand a clear demarcation between deconstruction and infrapolitics? It might be counterproductive to take the path of delineating to what extent infrapolitics is not deconstruction. Derrida, Heidegger, Nancy, and others, are fundamental references for many of us. Thus, it is not out of a need for demarcation but out of a need for a more amalgamated existential specificity (an infrathin [inframince] relation to use Duchamp’s term recently invoked by Nancy, 14) that it has become necessary to insist on infrapolitical and poshegemonic reflexion. For Moreiras, the posthegemonic supplement of infrapolitics “es rehusarse al poder del conflicto central a favor de las múltiples intensidades existenciales de una vida, la común y corriente, la nuestra en cada caso, y de hacerlo además en nombre de la resistencia a toda captura” (Moreiras “Comments to Sergio Villalobos Ruminott’s “Literatura y lucha de classes””). It is not simply that the great categories of politics have to be deconstructed, it is also that the shift toward politics (however “deconstructed”) is a shift toward the obliteration of everyday ordinary life to the extent that it does not show itself useful for the politics of the deconstructed community, or subject. To this Moreiras counters: “La pregunta que siempre se plantea en relación con la infrapolítica, es decir, para qué sirve eso, de dónde la necesidad del prefijo, podría invertirse: la política es en cada caso la captura capitalizante de la vida infrapolítica. Y esa es la definición de política que decide también por qué esa palabra debe caer bajo sospecha, y no sólo en general, sino siempre en cada caso, a cada uso” (Moreiras “Comments to Sergio Villalobos Ruminott’s “Literatura y lucha de classes””). Every time the suffering of the world is invoked as the authorizing instance of academic research, as Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott points out, what is at work in fact is the deactivation, not to say the censorship or annihilation, of this existential or lived infrapolitical dimension. He is referring to the objection voiced in the name of “communism,” but we could substitute the specific terms for politics to the same effect: “la tarea distintiva de la infrapolítica pasa por suspender esos automatismos y poner en suspenso las homologaciones empáticas. Advertida ya de la condición contraproducente de la empatía, la infrapolítica no sabe, pero sospecha de las grandes declaraciones y de las formas monolíticas e identitarias del discurso. Y por eso, más que la restitución de la [política] como motor de la historia, la pregunta infrapolítica sospecha de la [política] como forma histórica de la tesis del conflicto central, misma que estructura el horizonte onto-teológico occidental. Desde esta inquietud, la lucha de clases en sus formulaciones más militantes y sentidas no repara suficientemente en su función catecóntica, función que le permite amortiguar, neutralizando, la intensidad discontinua de las múltiples luchas sociales.” Which is to say that the problem of infrapolitics is not simply to offer a resignification of politics, a better sense of the political, but to show how the invocation of politics is always the erasure of the infrathin existence that does not allow itself to be captured by the political in any form.

References

Buttes, Steve. “More Thoughts on Infrapolitics”. https://infrapolitica.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/more-thoughts-on-infrapolitics-steve-buttes/, 2016. 3 May 2016.

____. “Some Questions for Infrapolitics”. https://infrapolitica.wordpress.com/2016/04/10/some-questions-for-infrapolitics-by-stephen-buttes/, 2016. 3 May 2016.

Moreiras, Alberto. “Comments on Regional Critical Work”. Infrapolitical Deconstruction: Discussion Group, 2016. Facebook. 29 April 2016. <https://www.facebook.com/groups/446019398878033/permalink/875947335885235/&gt;.

____. “Comments to Sergio Villalobos Ruminott’s “Literatura y lucha de classes””. https://infrapolitica.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/literatura-y-lucha-de-clases-comunismo-del-hombre-solo-de-fedor-galende-vina-del-mar-catalogo-2016/ – comments, 2016. 2 May 2016.

Nancy, Jean-Luc. Intoxication. Trans. Phillip Armstrong. New York: Fordham University Press, 2016. Print.

Villalobos-Ruminott, Sergio. “Literatura y lucha de clases. Comunismo del hombre solo de Fedor Galende (Viña del Mar: Catálogo, 2016)”. https://infrapolitica.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/literatura-y-lucha-de-clases-comunismo-del-hombre-solo-de-fedor-galende-vina-del-mar-catalogo-2016/ – comments, 2016. 3 May 2016.

 

 

[1]           For Moreiras, the continuity with the work on Latinamericanism, which was always a problematic relation to begin with, is now untenable. Recently he has offered the following exposition of the problem: “there is a void at the place where critical regionalism used to exist as Latinamericanism. Today the position is empty, and our mission … is to work back from that empty critical position into a proper genealogy of historical life: in other words, history is all we have, or history + the void. For me also, this has been developing essentially since the end of the Cold War, but more markedly and more catastrophically since 9/11, 2001—an event that marked the end of postcolonial thought as a genuinely productive possibility. We can note that, today, even people that are enthusiastic about the Latin American progressive politics cycle do not talk about it in terms of any kind of critical regionalism, rather in terms of whether or not the left can become hegemonic, and what mistakes are being made strictly following a political and economic logic given actual conditions, where ‘culture’ is very often simply another fact of political economy. Simply put, from my perspective, geopolitics has shifted to such an extent Latinamericanism, and any kind of great-spaces area studies, have lost their function today. This is a crisis in university discourse because the disciplinary constitution of the university has no replacement for that function but also or primarily because the disciplinary constitution of the university also has no interest in developing it. So we do a genealogy of historical life–perhaps looking for some kind of impersonal democratization as critical horizon, and perhaps looking for singularities of the time of life, what we used to call a ‘metahistory of material practices of power.’ Such is what remains of a Latinamericanism that can no longer sustain an intellectual endeavor in my opinion. My point, once again, is not to be pessimistic, but precisely to avoid all pessimism through an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with the state of things as they are. Only a clear understanding of the epochal situation can help orient our own careers, what is a dead end, what is not, what the function of intellectuality connected to languages and historical traditions could be today. My opinion: we owe tradition nothing, but we may want to establish a relationship to it, that is all. How we do it will define our role for the foreseeable future. Finally, I defined myself as a Latinamericanist only to the extent I have an ongoing conversation with Latin American intellectuals, and in no other sense. Same as regards Hispanism” (Moreiras “Comments of Regional Critical Work”).