Notas crípticas sobre la conversación de Tijuana.

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Informante bestial, informante diabólico, informante radical, que a su vez merece varias subcategorías. Mezclas de tipos en cada caso (por ejemplo, el que envía una carta anónima de denuncia falsaria puede incorporar los tres tipos, por ejemplo Marta Rovira diciendo mendazmente lo de “muertos en las calles” incorpora lo diabólico y lo radical y el análisis privilegia una u otra de las categorías, etc.).

Esos tipos contra el morador hiperfronterizo, el que vive en el secreto del desocultamiento, el marrano.

El hiperfronterizo entendido como el no-informante, es decir, el que vive en relación de sustracción respecto de la tipología del informante.

¿Qué es lo secreto, lo que regula la economía del informante? La “mismidad” del no-informante responde a la categoría (abiertamente presubjetiva) de “sujeto de la pulsión,” esto es, la pulsión de muerte en su singularidad máxima, o también,a aquello que en cada uno de nosotros se sustrae al Mitsein, al Mit- del Mitsein, contra Nancy, el lugar de la singularidad que ningún “cum” domestica.

La subversión del migrante marrano, el secreto del migrante, es el saber de la inexistencia del Gran Otro, el saber de la vacuidad de la fantasía social, y también, por lo tanto, el saber de la vacuidad de la teleología política.

El marrano en registro afirmativo apoya al estado contra la comunidad, y apoya la lucha del estado contra el estado de extracción. La batalla política de nuestro tiempo es la batalla del estado–único garante de la libertad posible–contra el estado de extracción–que organiza la servidumbre específica de nuestro tiempo–. Lo demás o es infrapolítica o es banal y está caduco.

El éxtasis del no-informante–del que se sustrae tendencialmente a toda tipología del informante–, su potencia de sobrevida y su oscura misión, son efectivamente lo que podríamos llamar o habría que llamar “aprender a callar.”

Aprender a callar es demanda de escucha, plantea demanda de escucha, pero solo porque es a la vez una sustracción radical a la escucha, un fin del análisis.

Hay un ejemplo histórico específico: el averroísmo popular de los siglos XII a XV en las comunidades judeo-moriscas de Tudela y León. Y había otras. No escribían, no dejaron más que traza de memoria.

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Paz en Cataluña.

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Dicen que la paz social no es sino olvido o disimulación de un conflicto siempre latente, y que el conflicto es primario. Dicen que la política es siempre anestésica de un conflicto o de muchos conflictos que, desatados, resultarían en violencia mayor, violencia abierta. Dicen que, por lo tanto, la política efectiva, en cuanto gestión de conflictos, solo debe entenderse como violencia menor, violencia vivible.   El problema surge cuando dos entendimientos directamente enfrentados de la acción política–no la acción política en general, sino la acción política concreta–llegan a tomar preponderancia. En ese caso, que es el caso actual en España, las condiciones para la violencia mayor están dadas y son quizá imparables. No debemos engañarnos: el estado actual del conflicto en Cataluña es anuncio de violencia mayor. El estado actual del conflicto en Cataluña es sin duda, como algunos han querido que fuera, el fin, simbólico de momento pero pronto real, del llamado régimen del 78 y marca el inicio de una incierta etapa de inestabilidad que puede llevarse por delante no sólo a España como país, desde luego también a Cataluña, o antes a Cataluña que a la totalidad de España, sino también al proyecto de unificación europeo.   Cabe recordar el letrero que el protagonista de Bajo el volcán, de Malcolm Lowry, el cónsul Geoffrey Firmin, ve para su horror profundo en un parque mexicano al final de la novela: “¿Le gusta este jardín? Es suyo. Evite que sus hijos lo destruyan.”   Se está haciendo estúpidamente tarde en España para tal evitamiento, y me temo que el lunes 16 de octubre, es decir, pasado mañana, solo abrevie el plazo que resta hasta el principio de la catástrofe real.

¿En qué nombre? Pongamos que hubo en algún momento legitimidad incontestable a la demanda de mayor autogobierno y de ventajas fiscales para Cataluña. Pero lo que está en juego ya hace mucho que dejó de vincularse a esa legitimidad posible. La avidez pseudorrevolucionaria de algunos (pseudorrevolucionaria porque no sabrían qué hacer, no tendrían ni idea, con una revolución entre las manos) pretende que un triunfo resonante del nacionalismo independentista (supongo que la pretensión de un independentismo no nacionalista ya está revelada como el cuento que siempre fue) consumaría en el despliegue histórico-práctico una especie de paraíso terrestre en el noreste español o ex-español, mientras que otros se limitan a afirmar su creencia objetivamente supremacista de que basta con librarse ya de los “españoles” para lograr la virtud, y es todo lo que quieren: eso les basta. Otros piensan, solo o además, que el mal real en Cataluña es una presencia impuesta por los malos españoles que lo controlan todo, y así la sustracción de todo ello dejará males muy menores con los que se podrá lidiar con facilidad desde una supuestamente nueva hegemonía social.   La gran ventaja, quizá también para ellos mismos, y así para todos, sería, por supuesto, que, de darse la improbable independencia, por lo menos uno quedaría a salvo de tanta monserga insufrible, que ya no habría que escuchar más.  ¿Cabe pensar que todo esto sea no más que un gigantesco malentendido, que los catalanes estén simplemente reaccionando a un supuesto desamor del que quieren librarse ya, igual que los otros españoles reaccionarían por despecho ante el visible rechazo?   Hay gente que piensa eso.  Yo no estoy entre ellos.

Me he pasado en Cataluña, concretamente en Barcelona, más años de los que he pasado en ninguna parte de España con la excepción de Galicia, donde nací. Allí estudié mi licenciatura y allí tuve mis primeros trabajos asalariados.  Allí me enamoré para siempre.  Estuve empadronado en Barcelona hasta que mi larga residencia en el extranjero me obligó a reempadronarme en el consulado de turno. Allí voté mis primeras veces.  Y no he cesado de volver, casi todos los años, a Barcelona, y ha habido veranos pasados en la Costa Brava, con mi familia, con mi mujer y mis hijos, con mi padre que vino a estar con nosotros.   Tengo muertos en Cataluña.  El catalán es una de las lenguas habituales en mi casa.  Por lo tanto llevo a Cataluña en mí, muy dentro, y lo que está pasando me produce un fuerte desgarro que, por supuesto, no puedo ni comparar a lo que les estará pasando a tantos que viven todavía en Cataluña y que no han querido ser embaucados por lo que ha venido a llamarse el “relato” independentista.

Ahora bien, esto del “relato” es en sí una trampa. ¿De qué relato se habla? ¿Del relato que hace de Cataluña una región irredenta y sometida a un estado español nunca querido desde hace más de quinientos años? Para no meternos en complicaciones imposibles, prefiero acotar el “relato” a lo que se relata en cuanto a la opresión y daño hecho por España a la Cataluña posterior a 1978. Y ese, no tengo reparo en decirlo, es un relato mentiroso y embaucador, tramposo, mírese por donde se mire.   Hay una situación fáctica, que es un Estado cuyos supuestos básicos están determinados por la Constitución aceptada por todos desde la facticidad misma, y no había otra. Ese Estado ha sido abierta y consensuadamente organizado en torno a una amplia división de poderes, aunque inevitablemente habrá siempre mayores o menores demandas y resistencias según los partidos de turno.  Más allá del Estado, y de la legalidad que no puede saltarse pero que se ha saltado, en Cataluña ha sido siempre muy claro, desde luego desde los años setenta, si no antes, que la hegemonía social era catalana y catalanista, y que el poder social no dependía en manera o modo alguno del Estado español o de sus supuestos largos dedos o arteras costumbres. La pretensión de una España opresora de una Cataluña sufriente, fuera del juego político habitual en democracias liberales, no puede en verdad sostenerse en relación con los últimos cuarenta años, y de relatos quiliásticos y victimistas en relación con la totalidad de los tiempos estamos más que hartos.  Cuando Mas le dijo a Rajoy que se atuviera a las consecuencias de una negativa a ampliar ventajas fiscales para Cataluña, clara amenaza, todo fue ya cuestión de sumar agravios para embarcarnos a todos en un camino altamente peligroso.  El movimiento resuelto hacia la independencia lo inicia el Gobierno catalán, y por eso él es el principal responsable, al margen de que ha habido graves torpezas políticas por todos lados en los últimos cinco años.

Pasé en Cataluña mis años de estudio universitario, los años de la llamada transición, del 74 al 81. Siempre supe, en aquellos años, que mi posición social real (dejaré al margen a mis amigos y a mi familia política, naturalmente) era la de un forastero solo más o menos bienvenido, así me lo hicieron notar, por ejemplo, mis profesores universitarios, y que, para conseguir una vida plausible en la sociedad catalana, había que pagar un peaje que excedía el aprendizaje de la lengua.   El contraste con lo que podía sentirse en Madrid o quizá en cualquier otra región española (con la excepción del País Vasco, me dicen, aunque yo no tengo experiencia directa), más francamente hospitalarias en un sentido primario y sencillo, era notable, pero era un contraste que uno aceptaba.   Ya se sabía: Cataluña era Cataluña y Barcelona era Barcelona, y amarlas, amar su lengua, su cultura, su tierra y su mar, su gente, su cocina, era apañarse con todo lo demás, con la diferencia catalana, grande, interesante, divertida, que tampoco hacía la vida cotidiana tan incómoda, se aguantaba, era un poco raro, se notaba a veces, podía tener consecuencias no del todo simpáticas (cuando, por ejemplo, el nieto de un famoso pintor mallorquín le preguntó a un amigo mío en un bar, hablando de mí, a quien acababa de ser presentado, ¿quién es este xarnego de mierda?), pero uno ya sabía.   Y quizá haya fuertes razones históricas para que esto sea y haya sido así, más allá del franquismo y más allá de la sospecha de que cualquiera que viniese en esos años de plomo del oeste de Lleida o del sur de Tarragona hablando en castellano era potencialmente un peligro para la herencia ancestral.   No lo dudo ni las juzgo. Había una particularidad catalana fuerte con la que había que pechar sin mayores reproches si uno no quería por otra parte tener que renunciar a su propia particularidad.  Esa particularidad catalana hacía demandas, demandas que eran personales pero también sociales, y eran demandas más rotundas y distintas a las que podía sentir un forastero en Galicia o en Madrid o en Sevilla o en Asturias.  Daban la oportunidad de elegir, o incluso conminaban a elegir después de un cierto tiempo.   Y uno elegía, qué remedio, y eso marcaba vidas, y a lo mejor no pasaba nada o a lo mejor sí, y muchos encontraron su felicidad en ello. Y nadie era directamente responsable, la historia quizá, y me atrevo a pensar que era así no solo para mí sino para tantos como yo, para todos y cada uno de los que eligieron Barcelona como lugar de residencia temporal durante todos esos años–justamente esos años que ahora, inevitablemente, mueren.

(Y en Cataluña aquel capullo de los años setenta me pudo llamar xarnego, y a lo mejor todavía les pasa hoy a otros, o a los niños en los colegios, crece el odio y el desprecio o crece el resentimiento, crece la estupidez, pero los no catalanes en España son también responsables: cuántos catalanes no han sido insultados y humillados en los últimos años en los taxis, bares, hoteles cuando viajan por España, en cuanto catalanes, por serlo.  Quizá les pasó a los vascos en otro tiempo.  Esa mezquindad torpe y palurda, la del desprecio al otro por ser diferente, española o catalana, no puede perdonarse, ni en un lugar ni en otro, ni de unos ni de otros.  No sería fácil, imagino, saber si hay más desprecio por lo español castizo en Cataluña o en España por lo catalanista en estos momentos, pero conviene decir, escribiendo en español, que los catalanes no son los que más insultan, y que no vale, en estas cuestiones, tirar la piedra, esconder la mano y luego dolerse de lo que otros hacen como resultado.  En qué medida el independentismo sea consecuencia de un desprecio percibido es algo que nunca sabremos, pero no debemos dudar de que sea un factor importante sobre el que siempre se puede hacer algo positivo, renunciando a ese desprecio.)

No me preocupa tanto la muerte de una época–el pasado pasa. Y no prejuzgo el futuro. Lo que me preocupa es lo que veo como el muy difícil acomodo de tantos como yo, de tantos que, queriendo vivir en Cataluña como ciudadanos iguales, con plenos derechos, y dispuestos a aceptar o incluso adoptar en lo que se pudiera una diferencia catalana, por incómoda que resultase (había que hablar la lengua, claro, pero había también que aceptar hasta cierto punto un relato problemático e incierto, había que cumplir ritos, decir cosas o callar otras, o no hacerlo y asumir la condición permanente de forastero), en la misma medida en que no estábamos dispuestos a renunciar a la nuestra propia–yo quería seguir siendo gallego y español tan clara o tenuemente como ya lo era, faltaba más, cuando vivía en Barcelona, y nadie me convenció nunca de que tal pretensión fuera vergonzosa–, ahora ya no tendrán a qué carta quedarse, las cosas se han complicado, ya no podrán reconciliarse fácilmente con una situación que los excluye como los conciudadanos reales que habían creído ser; una situación que crea una divisoria ideológica explícita y quizás insalvable en la sociedad catalana, entre los catalanes de verdad y los que Forcadell llamó súbditos y otros llaman traidores, quizás latente por muchos años, pero ahora demasiado dolorosamente patente.  Y el problema para ellos está abierto, y no hace falta esperar a que se declare y triunfe o fracase la independencia.  Ahora hay que asentir o callar, callar o doblarse, para que la igualdad no se tambalee, para que no haya bronca, o largarse y no volver, o esperar a que todo cambie, y aguantar, y esa es mala cosa.  Lo que en principio no era más que un conflicto político acaba envenenando condiciones fácticas de existencia. Claro, tenía que ser así, quizás, pues al fin y al cabo la política no es más que la disimulación del conflicto, y cuando la política falla–en Cataluña ha fallado la política, catastróficamente, y ninguno de los mediocres que hoy están a su cargo, incluyendo al patético Pablo Iglesias, tiene la más remota idea de qué hacer al respecto–la infrapolítica entra en su verdad.

Ahí está mi problema. Personalmente creo en la necesidad de una Constitución vinculante y no soy partidario de pasársela por el forro cuando a uno le conviene, como han querido hacer el Gobierno catalán y sus aliados.   Sé dónde está mi lealtad política, a pesar de mi amor por Cataluña.   Pero, más allá de mi lealtad política, está la otra lealtad, esa lealtad vital o existencial que está hoy desgarrada. Y me duele pensar en tanta gente como yo que no podrá resolver este conflicto en sus propias vidas excepto quizá invocando pasiones tristes que no le van a hacer favor alguno a nadie.  Pero a tantos de los valientes indepes esto parece traerles sin cuidado. No sé si hay entre ellos algunos que todavía se preocupen, o si más bien lo buscan.

Si todos o casi todos los residentes de Cataluña apoyaran la independencia, no habría que pedirles razones.  La independencia sería razonable y legítima.  Pero no es el caso.  Y a esos que no la apoyan y que tienen no solo a la Constitución–la ley del Estado–sino también quinientos años de historia y tradición a sus espaldas–la mitad del electorado, la mitad o más, pero poco importaría que fuese la mitad o menos–, en última instancia no se les puede dejar solos.   Por mucho que nadie que piense eso quiera violencia alguna.  Esa es para mí la verdad de lo que pase el lunes.

 

 

 

Notes on Sessions Six Through Nine of Jacques Derrida’s Théorie et pratique.

IMG_56111. Some perplexity regarding the abruptness of session nine, in particular because Derrida says, for the first time in the printed text, that all along the question has been this, what follows: and what follows are considerations on psychoanalysis, analytic theory, analytic practice, and analytic technique.   In the same way that Heidegger could bring the issue of technique to bear on the Marxist (and Althusserian) determination of theory/practice, in order to declare Marxism yet another instance of metaphysics and incapable therefore of accomplishing a true overflowing of philosophy, Derrida brings the issue of analytic technique to bear on psychoanalysis. The question is, is analytic technique a “modern technique” in the Heideggerian sense? That is, does the analytic technique belong to the epoch of modern technology?   Essentially, as determined perhaps, even if rather tenuously, in Session Eight, what is modern about the modern technique is that, in it, “Entbergen [unconceal] does not deploy itself any more as a ‘pro-duction’ (Her-vor-bringen) in the sense of poiesis . . . but rather as ‘Heraus-fordern,’ as a pro-vocation that tears away, requests, extracts violently with accumulation” (170).   Derrida fundamentally finishes his seminar raising the question whether the analytic technique has already taken decisive distance from modern technique, in spite of appearances.   But this question is strangely, uncannily, linked to another question which is not the same question, namely, the question of what we could call the save, or salvation.   Whether psychoanalysis, or even Marxism, or even Heideggerianism, by being re-traced to the ultimate question of the essence of technique, could in fact organize an einkehren, a return home or a homecoming, an orientation towards the homecoming understood relationally, that is, as a simply ever-more original unconcealment. Derrida cites Heidegger in his penultimate page against the menace that “returning to a more originary unconcealment and experiencing the call of a more primal truth be refused” (173).   This question of the save concludes the seminar.   It is, to my mind, the site of the counter-overflowing, but it is far from clear to me that Derrida has done anything but repeat the Heideggerian solution, not in that sense a third way, not a Derridean determination of what he could have found doomed, or metaphysically doomed, in Marxism yes, but also in Heideggerianism.   The issue is, therefore, whether a certain Heideggerianism can be called upon to save Marxism as well as to save psychoanalysis, or to save thought itself, from metaphysics, and to save Dasein from being refused an experience of truth not constrained to being as production.

2. That is, to me, what results from the questions to Heidegger that Derrida will indicate yet again in the seventh session (he had already raised them in session five): “Does Heidegger not reproduce, in the style of the questions he posits from the border of philosophy, philosophy, the relationship of philosophy to itself? . . . wanting to go through thought beyond metaphysics, would Heidegger not reproduce a ‘reactive’ research [understood as] a theoreticism that wants to reappropriate theoria against practicism, by returning to a ‘more originary’ or ‘more initial’ site?” (143).   The answer, to the obscure extent it is given, will have to do with whatever we think the answer to the question of analytic technique may be: is analytic technique also a reflective resetting of the endless search for an always-already where the ec-static temporality of Dasein exercises itself?   Is the endless search for an always-already, understood as the save, whether in terms of Gelassenheit (there is a meditation on Heideggerian Gelassenheit in session six) or in terms of exposure to whatever is more ancient as truth, aletheia as ever more initial unconcealment, not Derrida’s response to the question of theory-practice?

3. Besinnung (meditation) opens itself as a “passive praxis” (125) of transformation no longer productionist. It searches for what is unavoidable or unmissable within every system of production: “Physics cannot accede the unavoidable that is for it physis, since the objectivity of nature to which it relates is only one of the ways in which physis determines itself. In the same way, for psychiatry . . . the Dasein of man remains the unavoidable: ‘the Dasein, for which man as man ex-ists . . ., remains the unavoidable of psychiatry.’ In the same way, ‘history’ (Geschichte) remains the unavoidable for ‘history as theory’ (Historie). And for ‘philology,’ ‘grammar,’ ‘etymologie,’ the ‘comparative history of languages,’ ‘stylistics’ and ‘poetics’ what remains unavoidable is language” (128).   Besinnung opens towards the unavoidable in productive systems through a practice of the “tra-” (“en tra-jet de pensée” [129]) that links it to the exercise I call infrapolitics.

4. Perhaps the more enigmatic of Derrida’s proposals: for him, techné and praxis “are not separable in a modern concept of labor” (161). They were separable for Aristotle and for Heidegger. Heidegger’s entire critique of Marxism can be subsumed into the forced separation of technique and praxis which is the very condition of the subsumption of praxis into technique–Marxist practice is productionist.   This is what is intriguing: “You will say: but if Heidegger had returned labor to Aristotelian practice, the result would have been the same. Yes, but perhaps not if he had broken with the dissociation between techné and praxis operated by Aristotle and he had proposed to himself a new concept, a new organization, etc.” (162).   I find this hard to agree with, but perhaps it is what Derrida had in mind when, in session four, he spoke about the possibility that Marxism could be understood “so as to render account of metaphysics as technological humanism rather than to let itself be understood as such” (92).   The question for Marxism is a modulation of the question for psychoanalysis: are they something other than, and beyond, modern technique?   Could they be?  A positive answer could in fact move further than Heidegger did. Until we have it, we remain within the question. Is that comfortable enough?

 

 

The Counter-Overflowing.  A Commentary on (the First Half of) Jacques Derrida’s  Théorie et pratique.  Cours de l’ENS-Ulm 1975-76 (Paris: Galilée, 2017). Draft for Discussion,Transformative Thinking Workshop, U of Michigan, Sept 29-30, 2017.

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“Faut le faire/ca me regarde” (37).

(At two points in Théorie et pratique Derrida mentions the “ambiguous homage” Heidegger renders Marx in “Letter on Humanism” by saying that Marx “recognizes historicity in the essence of being” [106-07]. This seems to me the common link between the 1964-65 seminar on Heidegger and the question of being and history and the 1975-76 seminar I will be discussing. I will only have time to make a summary presentation of the later seminar, I am afraid, but I wanted to make sure we had this on the table for our discussion. On the basis of the 1975-76 seminar, one could hypothesize that Derrida’s interest in the question of history in the earlier seminar was already deeply inflected by a desire to take a critical position regarding Marxism from a certain Heideggerianism.   Except that it was Hegel, of course, in the 1964-65 seminar, who stood in for Marx and the Marxists. In any case, the “ambiguous homage” to Marxism Derrida takes on for himself is not decisive in the 1975-76 seminar, and it is for the most part limited to a repetition of the Heideggerian critique. Or is there more? Is there a third position? The question can only be prepared. I will not have the time to pursue it over the next half an hour in Sessions Six through Nine, although we can refer to them in discussion. I will limit myself to preparing it through an analysis of Sessions One through Five, although we may already anticipate: perhaps Sessions Six through Nine are only preparatory as well, perhaps they do not solve anything, do not settle anything. Can we–we ourselves, forty years later–remain within the confines and restraints of such a preparation? Or do we need a breakthrough? Some breakthrough, some new air?) 

One gets the impression at times that the 1975-76 seminar was not conceived as anything but a pedagogical enterprise–it really was a matter of letting the students know something that Derrida had established for himself long before, and where there wasn’t a lot of room for further discoveries.   This is no 1964-65 seminar, where a genuine Auseinandersetzung with Heidegger took place and where an astonishing blueprint for thinking that it would take Derrida years to turn into extensive writing was developed.   Here, in the 1975-76 seminar on Althusser, it is more a matter of recognizing the specificity of the Althusserian take on a Marxism that could not take flight from its roots in Hegelian productionism, which seemed to condemn it to endless variations on the metaphysical theme of the production of the subject or the subject as production, to examine the Heideggerian critique of it avant la lettre, and then to come to terms with the Heideggerian critique itself. One can perhaps argue that this seminar is at the genealogy of Derrida’s 1992 Spectres de Marx, but, I think, only in a very general and secondary sense. Obviously Derrida had thought enough about Marxism and the Marxists and about Marxist politics many times, like everyone in his generation, but he never was particularly interested. Yes, he was politically on the left, which meant he did not want necessarily to overdo the critique of his Marxist friends, including Althusser.   But he truly was not particularly interested. I think that does show in the 1975-76 seminar. The question is whether there is anything else that should excite us.

In my reading, the first session, playful in its use of the French expression “faut le faire,” can already barely hide an impatience with it, with the possibly arrogant demand that translates politically into possibly dangerous idiocy every time, but is nevertheless a staple of the Althusserian Marxists who were dominant in his Academic milieu and, at that time, possibly in Marxist milieus everywhere in the West.   In the seminar, it introduces the theory-practice opposition that will be the ostensible focus of the seminar.   Sessions Two through Five develop an analysis of it through the study of powerful inversions and counterinversions of the opposition in the work of Louis Althusser. But the analysis culminates, perhaps predictably, in the confrontation with Martin Heidegger’s notion of technology, on the basis of the 1947 “Letter on Humanism” and “Science and Reflection” and “The Question of Technology” (1953) in particular. Sessions Six through Nine are of uneven quality in the way they have come down to us, hard to read or at least hard to follow, but they are entirely consumed in a continuation of the reading of Heidegger’s essays on technology.   (I will not have the time to treat those in this paper, but perhaps in the discussion we can look at them to see whether something new in or for the Derridean approach emerges there.)

Il faut le faire: the opposition theory/practice calls for deconstruction. But we are not going to do it as a more or less standard complication and dismantling of what is oppositional in an oppositional logic. Instead, we will look at the specifically philosophical field where the opposition is today prominent. That is, at Marxism. Which always takes its point of departure in this respect from the eleventh of the “Theses on Feuerbach” that show up in Marx’s The German Ideology: “Philosophers have only variously interpreted the world, what matters is to change it.” Or: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” A priority of practice is announced, seems to be announced, or a certain priority of practice–let us change the world, interpreting it is a waste of time, or perhaps interpreting it in various ways is a waste of time. Perhaps, then, this priority of change no longer belongs to philosophy, leaves philosophy behind. Or, alternatively, perhaps this priority of practice is still a philosophical thesis, perhaps the first change is that there is a priority of a practico-theoretical engagement now, or practico-critical, that is, revolutionary philosophy, the new thing.

Derrida says that what matters to him is the following question: “does the last thesis mark the end of philosophy (which would have been contented with interpreting) or does it mark the end of the only philosophy that would have been contented with interpreting, so that what Marx calls forth is still a philosophy, but a practico-revolutionary philosophy, a world-transforming philosophy?” (28-29).   Derrida opts for the latter: taking Marxists at their word, following, for example, Antonio Gramsci and also Louis Althusser, he prefers to accept the notion that Marxist philosophy, that is, dialectical materialism, is still a philosophy and not something else: but a new, practico-revolutionary philosophy. (In this workshop named “Transformative Thinkingwe of course need to come to terms with what transformation might mean for us. There is a discourse on the “trans-” in Théorie et pratique I will not be able to comment on, or perhaps only later.   The crucial thing, it seems to me, is whether transformation is to be taken in the direction of production–one transforms the world through, say, manufacture, through production: is Transformative Thinking Productive Thinking? Or in the direction of an ecstatic trans- that takes us into a new–non-productive–relationship to ex-istence.)[1]

But the question itself–are we within philosophy or in excess of philosophy?–brings up the notion of a philosophical border. Derrida points out that an investigation into the genealogy of this border, in Althusser, will produce “different effects in terms of content, but structurally similar to a different genealogical perspective, namely, the Heideggerian-type text” (32-33).   This is the end of the first session in the seminar, and a certain ambiguity occurs here that should be underlined.   Derrida has just announced that he is going partially to interrogate “Althusser’s systematic trajectory” (32) and he has also said that Althusser’s trajectory will produce effects similar to the trajectory of texts of the Heideggerian type.   And then he says: “to its genealogical purpose, to its general type at least, we shall compare . . . a different purpose, a different perspectival take, a different interpretation . . . of the theory/practice couple” (33). The ambiguity that I want to underline: it is not clear to me whether Derrida is suggesting here that he is going to develop a third genealogical perspective, one to be compared to the Althusserian and to the Heideggerian one, or whether he is simply saying that he will in fact oppose a Heideggerian type of genealogical investigation to the Althusserian one.   In Sessions Six to Nine Derrida will attempt a reading of the Heideggerian texts on technology because those texts incorporate and develop Heidegger’s fundamental critique of Marxism.   Derrida presents that reading as a critical reading. But is the critique strong enough to offer a third position, an alternative reading? Or does the critique remain within a fundamental Heideggerian approach?

In the third session Derrida highlights Althusser’s interest, not so much in the 11th of the Theses on Feuerbach, but rather in the eighth, that is, “All social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which lead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice.” He has already commented on it in the previous session, showing how the notion of rationality in this eighth thesis solicits the apparent priority of the practical in the 11th thesis: if practice solves rational conundrums, then practice still has theoretical ends, practice still serves interpretative goals. It is unavoidable. The whole situation has to be taken on in the right way. Althusser, in fact, says that “there is only one step” between taking the 11th thesis too seriously and falling into a “theoretical pragmatism” (63).

This theoretical pragmatism is the other side of mystical theory. If a theory unrestrained by practice will go into the mystical, theoretical pragmatism is a practice without theory, which amounts to saying: “a practice in the horizon of philosophy’s death” (67). But Althusser’s project is not that. Well to the contrary, his interest in developing Marxist philosophy, or even his interest in turning Marxism into not just a philosophy but philosophy in general, cannot survive within the region of theoretical pragmatism. This is why he calls for “giving a bit of existence and theoretical consistence to Marxist philosophy” (69), where Derrida finds solid confirmation of the fact that Althusser, far from abandoning theory, seeks “a subordination of the philosophical in its totality to a theoretical instance or criterion” (70).   Here are Derrida’s words: “the Marxist philosophical construction must be theoretically consistent, in other words . . . the theoretical instance is the principal instance, the tribunal of last instance to judge the philosophical character of philosophy. The theoretical is no longer an aspect, a side, a determination of philosophy, but the reverse” (69). It does sound as if Marx’s eleventh thesis were completely out of luck.

Derrida salutes the Althusserian take by calling it “a singular and absolutely new displacement . . . in the history of philosophy” (71), because it adds to the traditional or fundamental gesture of regional subordination within a field of knowledge a different one: “This strongly classical gesture is strangely worked over, detoured, turned over, displaced . . . by another one” (71). The new gesture is of course precisely the subordination of the philosophical to the theoretical in the context of an epistemological break, a passage into science, which in itself relegates the totality of the theses on Feuerbach to the border of the break, on the bad side, the side that must be left behind or merely taken over as a historical residue (74).   The “dialectical circle” of Marxist philosophy is construed precisely through the radical theoreticism that confronts practical history as such, and that only Marxism can or could accomplish. Derrida quotes Althusser: “this theory that alone permits an authentic reading of Marx’s texts, a reading at the same time epistemological and historical, is in effect nothing but Marxist philosophy itself” (78).

Theoretical practice in Marxist philosophy is precisely the practical concept of conceptual production, that is, the dialectical determination of a new knowledge that was already previously there in a practical state: “this irreversibly marks the anteriority, the primordiality of practice over theory, of the practical state over the theoretical state, an overflowing anteriority since it announces that theory remains a development of practice, a kind of practice, theoretical practice insofar as it produces knowledges that were already there in the practical state” (83).

Derrida is particularly interested in the way in which a practical state is elaborated or belabored into a theoretical concept. There is a transformation, that is, a production, a manufacture. From matter to product: that is itself practice. Transformation is always production, and production is always human production. Derrida’s seminar reaches at this point its main critical articulation, in my opinion.   This Marxist discourse, says Derrida, “makes of practice (hence of transformative production, or human labor, or human technique) the essential determination of being, of that which is and of that which is to be thought; this discourse does not say ‘that which is essential is the primal matter’ or ‘the product,’ but, as Althusser reminds us, the ‘labor of transformation,’ the transforming production of human technique. From this point of view one understands, in its principle in any case, what Heidegger says of Marxism, and also the perspective he proposes, for example in ‘Letter on Humanism'” (89).

If Heidegger is right that metaphysics is the technical interpretation of truth, then clearly Althusser’s Marxism or Marxism tout court is a metaphysical enterprise. Marxism would be “a humanist metaphysics founded on a technological determination of being as production” (90). There is, Derrida says, another possibility, perhaps, that he, for the moment, will leave unattended, only registered, which is: “whether Marxism does not precisely come to think for the first time that which was involved in [certain] philosophemes (production, technique, humanity, labor, etc. and to articulate the possibilities of these philosophemes, so as to render account of metaphysics as technological humanism rather than to let itself be understood as such, and to render account no longer theoretically but rather through a practical, essential transformation, etc.” [91-92]. This is not, cannot be, an anticipation of the results of Specters, but it is perhaps what in 1975-76 Derrida thought it was possible for him to do. It seems to me the idea of what is possible in 1975-76 is more philosophically ambitious, from the perspective of Marxism, than what Derrida ended up doing, where quod erat demonstrandum is far from demonstrated, or even no attempt is offered.

Derrida had already quoted Heidegger in the fourth session to the effect that the emphasis on materialism in Marxist philosophy had little to do with matter vs. spirit and was much more interested in material labor, that is, in the essence of labor as the “self-organizing process of unconditioned production, that is, as the objectivation of the real by man, himself experienced as subjectivity” (Heidegger, quoted by Derrida 91). Now, in the fifth session, Derrida will refer to “the secular struggle between idealism and materialism” (103) as the crux of the Marxist redefinition of philosophy, which is also the determination of Marxist philosophy as philosophy tout court. Marxist philosophy, in the Althusserian sense, engaged as it is in the “dialectical circle,” may claim for itself a reciprocal overflowing of practice by theory and of theory by practice.   This dialectical circle is presumably the mechanism that allows Marxist philosophy to conceive of every philosophy that is not itself as merely idealist. If materialist philosophy must be understood restrictively as class struggle in theory, it is not because other philosophies are not very precisely also class struggle in theory, except that they are on the side of the wrong class, not on the materialist side of the proletariat.

So, Derrida, in this fifth session, announces that he wishes to interrogate the Marxist silence on Heidegger, as he has “no doubt that this non-reading hides the assured certainty that Heidegger is always already understood within ‘the secular struggle’ between idealism and materialism, and that he represents a variation, more or less subtle, unheard-of or overdetermined, of the possibilities of this struggle” (106).   In other words, Derrida wants to examine the Heideggerian critique of Marxism, notwithstanding what he now announces as a project that is not immediate, only eventual, which is “an eventually deconstructive reading of Heidegger and of the questions Heideggers posits to Marxism, on the subject of Marxism and on what Heidegger considers the sense of Marxism” (106). Again: was that the original idea for Specters of Marx? If so, we have to admit that things changed considerably. But is this “eventual deconstruction,” probably never done, of the Heideggerian critique of Marxism what Derrida considered essentially his own position on Marxism?   Can we read Specters of Marx from that perspective and find something there that would confirm this “third position”?

The question is important first because it refers back to the great question of the 1964-65 seminar, namely, whether Heidegger’s understanding of history or historicity marked an epochal break with the Hegelian, (hence also with the Marxist) idea; whether there is a radicality in Heidegger that the Althusserian radicality, still a metaphysical radicality, simply cannot measure up to.   Is Derrida still a thinker of Heideggerian radicality or does he claim for himself a third position? But the question is also important, second, because in my opinion the issue is not just a philological issue in Derridean criticism; rather, it constitutes still today an impasse for us that we must solve. And this is the reason why I wanted to bring these notes here for discussion: can we really thrive in the perplexity regarding whether the Heideggerian critique of Marxism is terminal, in the sense that it marks the need for a new and epochally post-Marxist determination of thinking?   Do we not have the means to decide whether Marxism can be rescued from it? Derrida’s ambiguity is a double ambiguity: he says to the Heideggerian critique something like “yes, but . . . ” “Yes, but . . . ” regarding the critique itself, that is one ambiguity developed in Sessions Six through Nine, not conclusively, though, but also “yes, but . . .” regarding Marxism, second ambiguity which Derrida talks about eventually resolving.   And that, perhaps he did. But we must come to some clarity ourselves. Perhaps the classical place of the ambiguity will become this 1975-76 seminar.   In my opinion, the ambiguity is overdetermined and it should be critiqued.   We need to break out of this epochal impasse which is really the contemporary form of the impasse of what some have called and will continue to call “left Heideggerianism.”   (I do not need to say, but I will, what some of you must have already thought, which is that infrapolitics is already an answer to the issue: but it must be specified.)

If Marxist philosophy postulated an overflowing of philosophy and of the history of philosophy, if Marxist philosophy posits a new philosophy which must be the philosophy, that is, philosophy, then Heidegger does the same: “because there is an enterprise of overflowing of Marxist discourse and its metaphysical space by Heidegger” (106). Derrida calls it: a “counter-overflowing” (106).  This Heideggerian counter-overflowing in the context of the history of philosophy, of the history of thought, is presumably what starts to be critically examined and determined in the sessions that follow session five, and which have come down to us in a less elaborate form than the previous ones, and with less than full clarity (the editors do not explain why, though.)

But is this counter-overflowing not the decisive site of contemporary thought?   Do not call it “left Heideggerianism.”   In the Heideggerian critique of metaphysical productionism the question of an epochal politics is involved, hence the question of the possible relation between politics and thought.   Is that not our question?

Still in the fifth session: “every being, as matter, appears as a relation of production between one subject and another, a humanity and a nature that are fundamentally identical. The ground is then nature as production, the unity of the totality of being as production, whatever the differentiations and the further determinations of this production” (109). The world is an unconditioned and self-organizing process because this production is “the last instance, the ultimate determination of being as nature put into work by human praxis” (109).

Still in the fifth session: “the essence of dialectical materialism cannot be understood without reference to the essence of technology” (109). This is a derivation or a corollary of the Heideggerian analysis of Marxism in “Letter on Humanism,” or even more: this is the Heideggerian fundamental thesis. Dialectical materialism, that is, Marxist philosophy, is a productionism thoroughly subservient to the metaphysical understanding of being and of the being of beings as production. Within this context, the opposition theory-praxis must be rethought all over again: theory is an effect of practice, indeed, a form of praxis, a form of technology as praxis. With this, the pretention of a Marxist philosophy to philosophy as such is contained. Within the Heideggerian machine, Marxist philosophy is nothing but an example–the most contemporary one, maybe–of the old philosophy of metaphysics, of old metaphysics as philosophy.

Towards the end of the session Derrida hints at the questions he will now orient against the Heideggerian text–and of course this is the moment when the possibility of a third position starts to be developed. There are, he says, two types of questions to be addressed to Heidegger here. The first type: is Heidegger’s counter-overflowing a real counteroverflowing, or is it still to be contained? In other words, how can one, or can one, ascertain the Heideggerian pretension to a real difference from metaphysics as a thinking of technique, as a productionism that is consummated in Marxist thinking through the notion that the being of beings is the being of production, which radically involves human subjectivity? The second question: if the Heideggerian critique of contemporary philosophy, in the form of Marxism, condemns it to being a follower of a certain reactive deviation from an origin, the follower of a conception of truth that obscures a more primal meaning that we must now recover, how is this return to the origin not simply another metaphysical ruse?   The two questions are really one question only, and they are well-known, they are in a sense the questions, or they are the question, Derrida always addresses to Heidegger, namely, is your pretension to a radical recovery of historicity as being, of being as historicity, anything but a pretension? Is it fake? Can we trust it?

(Second part of this, an analysis of sessions five to nine of the seminar, to follow. But there is no way we may have time to discuss everything now.)[2]

 

[1]  [Add note on Derrida’s “trans-“]

[2]   [Add notes on that, eventually finish paper]

A Note on Slavoj Zizek’s “The Persistence of Ontological Difference.”

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In the face of so many portentous denunciations of Heidegger’s evil work, and without diminishing the import of the historical fact that Heidegger did indeed take on pro-Nazi, and hyper-Nazi, and anti-Semitic, and racialized positions (does not much matter that Heidegger’s racism may have been metaphysical rather than biological), it is refreshing to come across Slavoj Zizek’s “The Persistence of Ontological Difference” (in Andrew J. Mitchell and Peter Trawny eds., Heidegger’s Black Notebooks. Responses to Anti-Semitism, New York: Columbia UP, 2017, 186-200).   Zizek does not want to engage in moralistic casuistry on one side or the other. His question is rather whether Heidegger is an important thinker that merits study today (“one should insist that he is a true philosophical classic” [191]), in spite of his multiple errors of many kinds but also even in spite of whatever may be threatening today about his intelligence. It is of course rumored that Zizek initiated his thinking life with a certain enthusiasm for Heidegger, but those rumors will remain unsubstantiated for those of us who cannot read Slovene. In any case, it has been clear for years that, at a certain point, Zizek preferred to take on Hegel as the lasting target of his personal magnification (although he has never come to terms, to my knowledge, with the Heideggerian critique of Hegelianism, which has to do, in a nutshell, with the all-dominant emphasis on the experience of self-consciousness and on self-consciousness as experience as end of history, which Heidegger dismissed as so much clumsy delusion. Perhaps an emphasis on political agency, and insofar as we fail to change our own general or civilizational perspective on politics, no matter how much it has failed us already, requires a willful blindness vis-a-vis that kind of critique.) From Zizek’s therefore partial but significant rescue I simply want to rescue, in this brief note, what seems to me more relevant and astute in “The Persistence of the Ontological Difference.”

Let me start at the very end, and not just the end of the paper, but the final footnote of it: “Ontological difference is, from our perspective, the very difference between the existing multiplicity of entities and the barred One: the One is barred, it doesn’t exist, but the very void of its inexistence opens up the space for entities to arise. The illusion of metaphysics–the ‘forgetting’ of the ontological difference, as Heidegger would have put it–is to obliterate the bar that makes the One inexistent, i.e., to elevate the One into the highest entity” (225).   One could be forgiven for concluding that Zizek is too quick to take the forgetting of the ontological difference into the region of onto-theology, as if it were easiest to understand Being as God.   In that reading, the ontological difference would be merely some reaction to the Nietzschean, but perhaps already Hegelian, dictum concerning the “death” of God that comes to certify its non-existence. The Ex-istence of the One would have to be suppressed for an Ex-isting Multiplicity to arise, and in the same way perhaps an Ex-isting Multiplicity could be suppressed, and then the One would come into Ex-istence. Anybody could then be either a conditional monotheist or an equally conditional materialist atheist or both, depending upon perspective and a specific determination of ecstatic temporality–this could in fact be a more or less adequate reading of historical Hegelianism, even.

But that may be a poor reading of what Zizek meant to offer with his definition of ontological difference. What if, for example, the transcendental or radically subjectivist position were meant to stand in for the One? And is this not the Hegelian Absolute Knowledge as such, where substance is subject and subject is substance? The Barred Subject then creates space for objectivity, as actually ex-isting multiplicity, even as objectivity also creates space for the Barred Subject and for the Subject as Barred.  But even this could also constitute only a partial and therefore inadequate reading of what Zizek is proposing. It could be countered with an intriguing affirmation from Heidegger’s Black Notebooks (that Zizek does not quote): “The ecstatic character that is attributed to everything ‘existential’ makes impossible from top to bottom every effort to conjoin an essentially subjectivistic ‘illumination of existence’ and the ‘existential analytic,’ which pertains solely to the question of being” (quoted by David Farrell Krell, Ecstasy, Catastrophe, Albany: SUNY P, 2015, 129).   If we take out of the equation any kind of subjectivistic interference in the understanding of the ontological difference, then issues of relative existence or belief in existence or illusions of existence become moot for its determination. We no longer care whether the big Other exists or not, etcetera.

There is perhaps a better definition of ontological difference in Zizek’s text, but let us preface it by quoting the heart of Zizek’s Heideggerian defense.   For him the attack on Heidegger is today not really, or not primarily, an attack on Heidegger and certainly not an attack on right Heideggerians or whoever out there is today pro-Nazi, hyper-Nazi, or anti-Semitic. It is, much more pedestrianly, an attack on left Heideggerians, or on people imagined to claim that tag for themselves, as an attack on theory. I remember when my old colleague Fredric Jameson used to say that all attacks on theory were really only attacks on Marxism–by delegitimizing theory the reactionaries in the US academy really meant to preempt any kind of return of Marxism. It may be a little late in the day to keep making that argument, which is not Zizek’s: rather, “the true stakes of the ongoing attacks on Heidegger” are “to get rid of the ‘French theory’ left by way of imposing on them a guilt by association” (190). With all my respect to those remainders of French theory that do not make recourse to Heidegger and never have, this is obvious code for deconstruction. Attacks on Heidegger today are functionally and politically attacks on deconstruction, even more, attacks on the people who claim the legacy of deconstruction, since it is not so simple to separate the dancer from the dance.   And why is that? Zizek’s answer is somewhat complicated, and it seems to me he claims too much in it:

“But the ultimate target is here a tendency within critical theory itself: the theoretical complex called “dialectics of Enlightenment,” with its basic premise according to which the horrors of the twentieth century (Holocaust, concentration camps, etc.) are not remainders of some barbaric past but the outcome of the immanent antagonisms of the project of Enlightenment. For Habermasians, such a premise is wrong: the horrors of the twentieth century are not immanent to the project of Enlightenment but an indication that this project is unfinished . . . We should make one step further here and recognize in this opposition between Enlightenment as an unfinished project and the dialectic of Enlightenment the opposition between Kant and Hegel: between Kantian progress and the Hegelian dialectic of immanent antagonisms” (190-91)

The unfortunate “Habermasians” stand in for those who still believe today that modernity is an unblemished, if unfinished, project for planetary mankind. Not Heidegger, and certainly not Adorno and Horkheimer, but, and this is where it gets a little excessive perhaps, not the Hegelians either!   And presumably including the Marxists. How is it possible to argue that all of those who believe in the “Hegelian dialectic of immanent antagonisms” also necessarily believe that modernity’s contradictions lead to an impasse? Is deconstruction the target of anti-Heideggerianism or is it still Marxism, even if it is a reconstructed and sui generis Marxism? Can Zizek, after all, stand in for the left Heideggerians?

Perhaps the crucial section of Zizek’s essay is the one entitled “Against the Univocity of Being,” whose hero is, paradoxically, Spinoza. Zizek will want to make an argument for infinite multiplicity, which is not necessarily what one associates with the marrano thinker. The key twist is the following: one is led to assuming or affirming a multiplicity of being in the same way that some people still believe it is forbidden to eat from the Tree of Good and Evil: “deficiency of knowledge” (193).   One does not know enough, and one confuses as the law or as an ethical duty what, from a larger perspective, is no more than a piece of advice or a cautionary word like “don’t cross the road unless you see a green light.”   Spinoza wanted to think a univocal Being opposed to Aristotelian ontology (where being is said in multiple ways) in order to pass from a sense of a universe unified by commands keeping or trying to keep chaos at bay to a universe defined exclusively by its own reality. Zizek’s account–moving towards the ontological difference–sort of turns the Spinozan intuition on its head:

“A is not just not-B, it is also and primarily not fully A, and B emerges to fill in this gap. It is at this level that we should locate ontological difference: reality is partial, incomplete, inconsistent, and the Supreme Being is the illusion imagined in order to fill in (obfuscate) this lack, this void that makes reality non-all. In short, ontological difference–the difference between non-all reality and the void that thwarts it–is obfuscated by the difference between the “highest” or “true” being . . . and its secondary shadows” (194)

But do we not have, again, a tendency to see the ontological difference too much on the side of onto-theology? Being is not another name for the God of theology, not for Heidegger. Whence the insistence? Yes, reality is not all for the human, Dasein cannot experience it in any kind of completeness (which is not structurally the case for the Hegelian Subject of Absolute Knowledge, by the way). But the ontological difference does not posit an illusion coming to compensate for subjective deficiencies!   Zizek is still within an understanding of ontological difference in the Hegelian sense of the difference between beings and the being of beings.   But Heidegger, at a minimum, points elsewhere: towards another difference, and a more decisive one from the point of view of rupturing metaphysics, the difference between being and the being of beings.   Does Zizek ever register it?

I think he does, but perhaps in spite of himself. But he does. This could be a matter of genius. At first, he conflates the Heideggerian ontological difference with the Freudian death-drive and dialectical negativity. We can only say no. It ain’t that. But then, at the end of a substantial engagement with Ray Brassier’s Nihil Unbound (2007), an anti-Kantian book in a sense, Zizek hits a plausible note or genius breaks through: “[the ontological difference] is beyond any transcendental horizon; it aims at reaching the In-itself. However, the In-itself is not ‘out-there;’ we do not reach it after we subtract from reality our subjective additions; the In-itself is ‘here’ in the very subjective excess to what appears to us as objective reality” (200).   It seems to me this observation, which flatly contradicts the two accounts of the ontological difference that have previously been noted in Zizek’s text (and also above), is on target, and perhaps not absolutely, but certainly in its very difference with the other two accounts. It is a relational definition of the ontological difference which refers to an In-itself perhaps better rendered as an out-there.   In any case, food for thought. Zizek concludes: “Nothing in the Black Notebooks changes the fact that Heidegger’s thought provides a key contribution to our dealing with this ultimate question” (200).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heidegger and psychoanalysis.

On this issue (but take a look at the previous post) it is interesting to remark what Medard Boss reports about Heidegger’s critique of psychoanalysis, since it is not always noted.  Heidegger says: “Psychoanalysis glimpses from Dasein only the mode of fallenness and its urge.  It posits this constitution as authentically human and objectifies [the human being] with his ‘drives'” (174).  In other words, Heidegger’s contention is that the basic psychoanalytic framework posits an urge, as some kind of bad property of the subject, that makes the subject act out in painful ways.  For Heidegger it is essential to invert the interpretative structure, so that the essential characteristics of being-in-the-world are taken in, and particularly the three ecstases of temporality: not just being-alongside or being-at (Sein-bei), not just Immer-schon-sein as always-already-being, but also being-ahead-of-oneself (sich-vorweg-sein).   I note this critique of psychoanalysis but abstain from opining on whether it is fair for all analysts, or whether psychoanalysis has already worked this out.  My interest refers to infrapolitics, which is a thinking of the always-already to the extent that it is very much a thinking of the ontico-ontological difference.  I suppose, but then I also suppose this supposition is very much a question, that what is “infra-” about infrapolitics is very directly and strongly connected to the always-already structure.  It is nevertheless an essential aspect of the existential analytic that there is no real relation to the always-already that is not at the same time involving the present from a radical consideration of the to-come.  The three temporalizing ecstases are equiprimordial .  So this is the question: if the three emphases are equiprimordial, can it be claimed that a privileged relationship to the always-already, to the particular kind of always-already that both the ontological difference and psychoanalysis must claim for themselves even if in different ways, should be given leeway?

On “philosophical anthropology” and infrapolitics.

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(Apologies, because I am posting these comments both here and in the new blog in infrapolitics.org.  The latter site is still very much under construction, so that new blog is accessible to very few people yet.)

In the Zollikon Seminars, in the protocol for November 23, 1965, Heidegger is at pains to distinguish his “analytic of Dasein” from any kind of “Daseinanalysis,” because the first is only to be said in reference to ontological structures, whereas the second refers to ontic phenomena.  Daseinanalysis has to do with the therapeutic situation, for instance.  It is ontic behavior.  This could have been expected.  What is rather interesting, for a Heidegger who would usually apparently refuse to make any concessions to the ontic, is his concluding comment: “The decisive point is that the particular phenomena, arising in the relationship between the analysand and the analyst, and belonging to the respective, concrete patient, be broached in their own phenomenological content and not simply be classified globally under existentialia” (124).  The decisive point then would be that in the therapeutic situation it is not the analytic of Dasein that counts–one must make obvious recourse to existentiell modes of relation, and thinking, and action.  The analytic of Dasein can only orient, more or less resolutely, such existentiell modes, but there is a specific style of behavior which is radically concrete, attentive to the phenomena at hand, and irreducibly so.   Such a style of behavior needs to be exercised in the therapeutic situation, or the teaching situation, or the hermeneutic situation, etc.  Infrapolitics should be nothing but a (ceaseless) meditation on the implications of such concrete encounters in the always-already (as opposed to either constant ontological [theoretical] talk or the triviality of opinion-making from ideological positions, whether political, ethical, or aesthetic, which is all the humanities seem to dare propose today.)  Needless to say, that ceaseless meditation, if done appropriately, would change everything also for the trivial opinion-makers.

In the November 26,1965, session Heidegger points, perhaps surprisingly,  in the direction of the elaboration of a “philosophical anthropology” for which “the analytic of Da-sein as an existential-ontological analytic” would not be sufficient.  He then says: “there would have to be an entire future discipline with the task of delineating the demonstrable existentiell phenomena of the sociohistorical and individual Da-sein in the sense of ontic anthropology bearing the stamp of the analytics of Da-sein” (125).   I am not enough of a Heideggerian to know whether this invitation has even been taken up in some quarters or other: the call for a philosophical anthropology enabled by the analytic of Dasein to take up existentiell concreteness, “oriented toward the concrete historical existence of the contemporary human being, that is, toward the existing human being in today’s industrial society” (125-26).  Infrapolitics is at the same time less and more than this: it is less, because it does not have the ambition, nor the desire, to constitute a new discipline, or a new disciplinary modality within anthropology; it is more because it has the arrogance of claiming for itself a new field of reflection, based, certainly, on the existential analytics, but in no way limited to what Heidegger calls “existentialia.”

 

Contra los mentores.

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Dentro de unos días empieza el semestre, y me toca dirigir un seminario en el que se discutirán procesos de profesionalización. Uno de esos procesos es sin duda la relación con lo que en USA se llama el “advisor” o “major professor.” Siempre me pareció una figura simpática–un fulano o fulana que acepta alegremente ocuparse de la formación de algún estudiante que se lo pida, y que, al hacerlo, acepta también no solo discutir y dar consejo sobre estudios y tesis, sobre propuestas y proyectos, sino además, de alguna forma, tratar de dar algo más que consejos puntuales, entregar algo así como una verdad vital, en el terreno profesional, laboriosamente conseguida. Hoy, me temo, tal figura me produce alarma creciente. Puede ser que mi odio al líder, sea quien sea, se haya ido radicalizando y ya amenace con incluir hasta a los niños que deciden organizarse un rancho de hormigas en sus casas.

Y encima me acabo de leer una novela donde aparece otro tipo de tutor espiritual: Albert Gaines es el mentor de Sarat Chestnut en la novela de Omar El Akkad American War (Nueva York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017).   Su misión es reclutar jóvenes prometedores para la lucha que enfrenta el Free Southern State contra lo que queda de Estados Unidos en situación de guerra civil tras la declaración unilateral de secesión de varios hasta entonces Estados de la Unión.   Sarat le pregunta a Gaines por qué se unió a la causa sudista, y la contestación rechina fuertemente y suena ya a mentira podrida (aunque el lector no tiene por qué saber todavía en ese momento de la novela que Gaines no es un personaje de fiar): “I sided with the Red because when a Southerner tells you what they’re fighting for–be it tradition, pride, or just mule-headed stubbornness–you can agree or disagree, but you can´t call it a lie. When a Northerner tells you what they’re fighting for, they’ll use words like democracy and freedom and equality and the whole time both you and they know that the meaning of those words changes by the day, changes like the weather. I’d had enough of all that. You pick up a gun and fight for something, you best never change your mind. Right or wrong, you own your cause and you never, ever change your mind” (142).

Pero la verdad del sudista es otra mentira más sobre todo cuando insiste en su calidad de excepción.  Lo que está en juego es por supuesto si, en una situación de división política, las palabras y las ideas no sirven para nada, y lo único que sirve es una especie de cerrazón feral donde hay que aliarse con sangre y suelo pase lo que pase y caiga quien caiga: la patria viene a ser aquello que queda cuando uno cierra ojos y oídos y escucha la voz de la verdad torrencial que viene de dentro, y todo lo demás es el enemigo. Quizá todos los perdedores han querido siempre afirmar que la autenticidad atávica está de su lado, mientras que los ganadores usan las palabras analgésica o anestésicamente y así por definición mienten. Gaines es una de esas figuras que transmite la verdad de la causa, como sin duda también lo fue para los terroristas que atacaron en Barcelona y Cambrils hace unos días Abdelkabi Es Satty, el dudoso imán de Ripoll con, sin embargo, capacidad probada de embaucamiento.  O los viejos tunantes de Charlottesville, que usan su edad como camuflaje de su impostura.  Proliferan o están de moda figuras como estas: santos varones, milagreras, santones, falsos héroes que producen carisma e impronta, que producen fijación, y que la usan para lavar cerebros, desde una causa cuya verdad emocional se convierte en más importante que ninguna otra cosa en el mundo.   Hay que tener cuidado con estos personajes–políticamente por supuesto, pero también en la universidad.

Creo que estaríamos todos mejor servidos si le quitamos toda paternidad y maternidad al papel del advisor en la universidad y pedimos en cambio–exigimos– que ningún mentor trascienda su papel de tía mala, o tío malo, un poco perverso, un poco cruel, un poco demasiado gracioso, escéptico, sarcástico, y descreído de todas las piedades, empezando por la torpe piedad de la tradición profesional. Un tipo que no se haga cargo de nada, infiable, inestable, reticente, algo canalla, no por falta de generosidad, sino cabalmente porque ya aprendió, hace tiempo, que no hay otra generosidad que compartir lo real; y que lo único imperdonable es la traición, a la que no hace falta arriesgarse.

On Latin Americanism. A Comment to Tenorio-Trillo.

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Sobre Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo, Latin America. The Allure and Power of an Idea. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2017.

En cada libro hay siempre dos secretos al menos: el primero y más importante, el que refiere a su objeto perdido, que es irrecuperable aunque genere deseo; y el otro, el secreto trivial que atiende a disimular que lo que el libro dice que hace no coincide con lo que el libro realmente quiere hacer.   No sé cuál podrá ser el objeto perdido de Latin America, de Tenorio-Trillo, aunque confieso haber pensado en ello al leer el libro porque mi impresión fue que algo importante se juega allí, pero su secreto trivial es quizá que lo que le interesa de verdad tiene poco que ver con la idea de América Latina (al fin y al cabo, después de mucho maldecirla acaba aceptándola como necesidad práctica) y mucho más que ver con la crítica destructiva de un número de opciones en nuestro campo intelectual, para la que sin duda hay buenas razones.   No estoy tan seguro de que esas buenas razones sean las que Tenorio aduce, sin embargo. O lo son para ciertas opciones y formas de hacer pero no para otras, y el problema es entonces el cajón de sastre disciplinario en el que Tenorio insiste en meter útiles críticos y tendencias muy diversas e incluso opuestas como si se tratara de la misma cosa. La especificidad necesaria del historiador, que Tenorio elogia en ciertos momentos de su libro, deja mucho que desear en este caso.   Mi interés en esta nota no es hacer una reseña cuidada de la totalidad del libro, sino solo incidir en un aspecto que me atañe directamente.

No creo que el cura y el bachiller, al revisar la biblioteca de Don Quijote, encontraran 260 libros de caballería capaces de sorberle el seso al hidalgo, pero 260 son las tesis doctorales que Tenorio-Trillo afirma haberse leído: “My professional duties, and my own curiosity, recently led me to read 260 dissertations from mainstream Spanish and Portuguese/Romance Languages/Iberian-Latin American Cultural Studies Departments” (144).   Dicen que la curiosidad mató al gato, y en todo caso mi propio sentido profesional desde luego se alarma gravemente ante tal exceso de lectura, capaz de sorberle el seso al más pintado—yo no me creo capaz de sobrevivir tal ordalía. No es por lo tanto mayor sorpresa que Tenorio-Trillo solo pueda ofrecer una lección de brocha gorda como consecuencia de su propia indigestión: que, de los 260 doctorandos y doctorandas, ninguno parecía librarse de “the textbook category Latin America” (144). Más específicamente: “At times all of their theorizing and doubting seemed to be footnotes to the essential lasting connotations of Latin America. Other times, the theorizing and doubting indeed seriously jeopardized the textbook version of Latin America. And yet, even in the latter cases, the works managed to rescue the concept from its agony, consciously or not, by framing their findings in a historical context, which inevitably becomes that of US Latin American history textbooks—not because they needed the facts and dates, but because they needed a mold to make their cake” (144-45). El problema, curiosamente especular, es que del libro de Tenorio-Trillo podría decirse justamente lo mismo que él dice aquí de las 260 tesis—su crítica, la de Tenorio, de la idea de América Latina también oscila entre ser una “footnote to the essential lasting connotations” del término y ser una denuncia radical de su uso destinada a ser desvirtuada a través de consideraciones institucionales.   ¿Qué es, pues, lo que está en juego? Tomémonos muy en serio lo que Tenorio aduce con insistencia y eficacia: que el término América Latina es una ficción teórica, una entelequia institucional, un equívoco, un sustituto de tensiones más raciales que políticas, un subterfugio para encontrar una tercera posición en la guerra universal de razas.   Y también lo que Tenorio concluye: que ya puede uno desgañitarse denunciando “América Latina” (el término), al final “América Latina” (el término) resistirá y el desgañitante pasará al basurero de la historia, por más que noblemente.   Así son las cosas terribles.

Esas insípidas 260 tesis tenían que demostrar credenciales de campo, y el campo, en la memoria reciente, es el llamado latinoamericanismo.   Lo primero que hace un doctorando no poseído por el espíritu lunático de algún consejero perverso al escribir su tesis es apresurarse a indicar que busca inscribirse en un surco de legitimidad profesional, el que sea. Desde ahí, es solo aburridamente lógico que todos los 260 partieran de una idea de América Latina–la que entrega el campo profesional mismo–sin que se les ocurriera destruirla ontológicamente o buscar arruinarla de tal forma que, con esa ruina, consiguieran también arruinar sus respectivas carreras. Tales ingenuidades románticas deben dejarse más bien para los catedráticos. Y es aquí que el libro de Tenorio-Trillo entra en un terreno que me concierne profesional y personalmente, o que me ha concernido en el pasado; un lugar donde hay efectivamente cierto riesgo de rechazo institucional que, por otro lado, ni a Tenorio ni a mí debe hacer otra cosa que traernos sin cuidado. Lo que Tenorio critica no es tanto “América Latina” (el término), sino el latinoamericanismo, entendido como el mecanismo discursivo al servicio de una formación institucional que es la universidad en su configuración presente (aunque, también hay que decirlo, no ya por mucho tiempo). Y criticar el latinoamericanismo es criticar a los latinoamericanistas. Y ahí se paga precio, más de lo que uno sabe.

Voy a copiar una larga cita–en dos partes–porque la considero antológica. Es una de las denuncias más contundentes que yo haya leído nunca del campo profesional en el que yo mismo he pasado la mayor parte de mi carrera (pero no Tenorio, pues él es historiador, aunque, quiera que no, también latinoamericanista). Merece ser escuchada y considerada. Esta es la primera parte:

In language departments, US Latin Americanism often, if perhaps without meaning to, obeys what the concept demands: it is antidemocratic in the form of the vague antiestablishment populism of authenticity, and antiliberal, either in defense of the legal and moral exceptionality of a sanctioned collectivity (the authentic town, the ethni, the assumed sexual, racial, or cultural “community”), or through a bizarre antielitism that becomes a heroic patrol of the border between what is assumed to be “popular” and what is “elitist.” Mainstream US literary Latin Americanism abhors Latin American elites–they are Westernized, white, criollo, or consumerist urban mestizos–thus its antielitism, its persistent plea for the popular and authentic–the more ethnic, the better. And yet its populist plea is expressed in the most elitist fashion possible: in the language of the US academic theory. (143-44)

Es una denuncia del campo profesional, hasta aquí, basada políticamente. Y es verdad, debemos admitirlo, que hay quizás una tendencia general, más marcada en los últimos veinte años que en ningún otro periodo de nuestra historia institucional, a hacer justo lo que Tenorio denuncia.   Se trata de una tendencia que, en sus múltiples cegueras, es responsable de excesos, y de torpeza, y de considerable tontería y piedad ideológica insostenible.   Pero se trata solamente de una tendencia, más o menos hegemónica dentro del campo, aunque hay razones para pensar que su hegemonía está llegando a su fin, pero de ninguna manera omnipresente, y es una tendencia que ha sido y es contestada abundantemente por sectores profesionales que el radar de Tenorio no puede captar, por lo visto: ni se enteró, las 260 tesis no le dijeron. Hay sectores profesionales, los ha habido siempre, que se lo han jugado todo, profesionalmente hablando, en su crítica de la noción de comunidad, en su crítica de las diversas ideologías identitarias, en su crítica de todo autoritarismo político antidemocrático, y en su intento por empujar otro tipo de acercamiento, no tanto a “América Latina” (el término) como a cualquiera de las múltiples cuestiones a las que nos asomamos desde nuestras clases o nuestro ordenador y que han de ser objeto de pensamiento y escritura para nosotros.   La brocha gorda no ayuda a mejorar las cosas. La denuncia de Tenorio es una denuncia que muchos dentro del “US literary Latin Americanism” hemos hecho, hasta aburrirnos, pagando diversos precios. Y el problema, como siempre en estos casos, es que esa misma brocha gorda ayuda a nuestra demonización e invisibilización, dándole a los otros patente de corso como propietarios absolutos del discurso. El Profesor Tenorio debería saber que condenar al abismo a todo un campo intelectual por inepto condena al abismo en primer lugar a todos los que han dedicado su vida a tratar de reducir la ineptitud como han podido, y no siempre en condiciones óptimas.

La segunda parte de la cita, sin embargo, ya no es tan directamente política. Dice:

The theme under consideration might be graffiti, or a narco novel, or some performance, or painting, or social movement in Latin America. But in fact what is being said is about Zizek, or Badiou, or Agamben, or Foucault, or Derrida, or Butler, or Heidegger, or Peter Sloterdijk–or, as the soccer lottery used to say in Mexico: “lo que se acumule esta semana” . . . This antielitism is comprehensible only to its own initiates. This is a challenging Latin Americanism that seems not to take anything for granted, not text, not gender, not authorship, not power, not hegemony, and of course, not aesthetics. (144)

Es obvio que aquí las veleidades antiteóricas de Tenorio, que comparte no solo con su bendita profesión historiográfica en general, sino con la mayoría del mainstream intelectual o intelectualista latinoamericano, corren sueltas. Eso no sería grave, solo más de lo mismo de siempre, si no fuera porque, en el proceso, tales veleidades antiteóricas lo confunden todo: nadie que tenga el menor conocimiento real de la situación en el malhadado campo del “US literary Latin Americanism” puede ignorar que los máximos responsables y por lo tanto también los acólitos de eso que Tenorio denuncia en el campo son también abiertamente antiteóricos y nunca citarían a Derrida ni a Heidegger ni a Sloterdijk, etcétera, excepto para ponerlos en la picota–de uno de ellos se rumorea que recientemente le dijo a un alto dignatario de la marea rosa que debería dejarse de Marx y Gramsci y pendejadas, que ya teníamos a Mariátegui, y que solo él debería contar.   Así que no, Profesor Tenorio, se equivoca usted porque nos mete a todos de mogollón en un solo cajón irrespirable que además nunca ha existido excepto en mentes calenturientas: quizás las mismas mentes que, desde sus mismas veleidades antiteóricas y en el fondo ignorantes, están, efectivamente, llevando no solo al latinoamericanismo sino a las humanidades en general a su debilitamiento y ruina institucional terminal.   ¿No sería mejor que los historiadores hicieran lo que ellos hacen y quieren hacer y dejaran que la gente que quiere tener interlocución con corrientes activas del pensamiento internacional, a pesar de ser meros latinoamericanistas, o “iberistas,” como parece preferir Tenorio, hicieran lo propio?   La única crítica real en estas cuestiones tiene que ver con el rigor intelectual, la solvencia y la competencia lógica del argumento en juego. Pero esto es algo que pocos latinoamericanistas entienden, efectivamente, como Tenorio muestra en otros lugares de su libro, porque el nativismo excepcionalista gana siempre la partida, como la lleva ganando unos doscientos años en nuestra tradición intelectual. Excepto que, aquí, ganar es siempre perder.

Al principio de su libro Tenorio-Trillo cita a Francisco Bilbao: “We, the ‘Latins,’ said Bilbao summarily in the 1850’s, though he could be speaking of Latin America today, ‘have not lost the tradition of human destiny’s spirituality. We believe in, and love, everything that unites; we prefer the social over the individual, beauty over wealth, justice over power, art over commerce, poetry over industry, philosophy over texts, absolute spirit over calculations, duty over interest'” (6). La cita es importante, porque Tenorio añade: “If the name Latin America has had a lasting sense, this is it: the Bilbao Law” (6). Esa Ley de Bilbao puede muy bien regir todavía hoy los destinos de todo latinoamericanismo, en la medida precisa en que el latinoamericanismo pueda concebirse políticamente como un discurso crítico de resistencia. Sin duda muchos de nuestros colegas viven todavía bajo tal ilusión. Yo estuve bajo ella ciertos años también, en una época, ahora vivida como ingenua, en la que creí que el latinoamericanismo (un latinoamericanismo no tradicional, tampoco el neolatinoamericanismo que Tenorio denuncia, sino un “latinoamericanismo de segundo orden” que podría en cuanto tal desvincularse de cualquier realidad ontológica y locacional, para formar algo así como un “atopismo sucio” como máquina crítica de guerra) podía efectivamente salir de su ghetto endémico y encontrar normalización en el campo general del pensamiento en humanidades. Ya no tengo esas ilusiones, ya no puedo creer en ningún “regionalismo crítico.” Comparto con Tenorio la sensación de que la hegemonía latinoamericanista presente no normaliza sino que excepcionaliza de forma bien poco atractiva e intelectual y políticamente nefasta.   La cuestión es si todavía merece la pena presentarse a la batalla para salvar la reflexión crítica latinoamericanista de sí misma, o si conviene más pasar los días, como el mismo Tenorio parece recomendar a los latinoamericanistas literarios, entregado a alguna indecisa traducción quevediana de textos funerarios.   O quizás haya alguna tercera opción, que deberá por ahora permanecer secreta.