Is There an Infrapolitical Dignity Worthy of the Name? By Gareth Williams.

Rome dignitas

Geoffrey Bennington, Scatter 1: The Politics of Politics in Foucault, Heidegger and Derrida. New York: Fordham University Press, 2016.

My presentation is framed as a question, but is simply an attempt to think alongside scatter, with no definitive response to the question itself. I would like to begin by expressing my gratitude to Alberto Moreiras for this gathering, and my admiration to Geoffrey Bennington for Scatter 1, which, via the “politics of politics” in Foucault, Heidegger and Derrida, posits a thinking not of the political per se, but of a certain autoimmune distance from the political, which is, of course, a distance from politics understood as the dialectical orientation and administration of force. Bennington proposes a dismantling of the hermeneutics of the political, and, as such, a deconstruction of the originary polemos/polis relation. He does this in such a way as to unveil—that is, to loosen and scatter—just some of the originary concealments that lie at the heart of the political. Bennington presents us with what one might call, perhaps a little inappropriately, a form of anticipatory resoluteness that is extended, however, not in the name of power over Dasein’s existence, as in Heidegger’s not so surreptitious decision, but in the name of autoimmunity. This movement uncovers a “modest falling short of the transcendental”; the potentiality of a turn toward a thinking of autoimmunity that traces the contours of a thinking without mastery; an opening to a certain environmentality within thinking that remains at a significant remove from the dialectic of reason and the certainties of political consciousness that animate every teleology.

We could understand Scatter1, therefore, as a protocol of reading that highlights, and animates, a certain trembling at the heart of the political; a trembling that is covered over, concealed, and systematically rendered oblivious in the name of teleology. Bennington’s is a protocol that is extended with a view to dispersing all fugitive Self-Other concealments. This is obviously not the work of a card carrying Heideggerian, however. Quite the contrary, the author proposes the detours of scatter in such a way as to open up a task for thinking that does not regurgitate Heidegger’s troublesome metaphorics of proximity and gathering; a metaphorics that Derrida in May ‘68 (“The Ends of Man”), but also in his lectures from a few years before On the Question of Being and History, had already outlined as a thinking of “simple and immediate presence, a metaphorics associating the proximity of Being with the values of neighboring, shelter, house, service, guard, voice and listening” (“Ends, 130). As Derrida highlights in reference to Heideggerian metaphorics, this is “not an insignificant rhetoric” (130).

With this in mind, Scatter 1 takes aim at the underlying problems of the “moment of vision” (Augenblikt), which Heidegger developed with a view to anchoring and holding together the factical and the transcendental, the existential and the existentiell; the gathering together of all thrownness, dispersal and ek-sistence. In contrast to Heidegger’s moment of vision, Bennington invites us to approach the politics of politics in the absence of such a problematic metaphorics, in the process raising the question of metaphoricity in general, and along with it the very conceivability of plurality, coexistence and simultaneity.

Echoing Derrida’s “differance”, Scatter 1 offers its readers the tomb of the proper, the death of the tyranny contained in Heidegger’s metaphysics of gathering and proximity (Derrdia, 1972, 4). As such, the politics of politics unveils an economy of death that lies at the heart of the metaphorics of the familial and the proper. Rather than positing presence, scatter loosens, breaches and breaks open in a movement toward the politics of politics; politics in its autoimmune self-difference, or alter. The politics of politics marks not the sign politics, but the sign of the sign, and therefore the opening to the unveiling trace of the erasure of the trace itself. As a result, Scatter is the movement of an autoimmune destitution of political presence that moves in the name of an economy without reserve, always preceding and differentiating itself from the political.

In these movements the politics of politics governs nothing. If it is anything, scatter is the name for that which “lingers in the expanse of unconcealment” (Derrida,”Ousia and gramme), and, as such, in the expanse of the trace of the erasure of the trace. Scatter is a thought of lingering and of falling short. Making the unveiling of oblivion the issue not of politics, but of the politics of politics, scatter suspends teleology from the start, in the name of always, humbly, and necessarily, falling short of gathering. As such, it remains at all times without a kingdom and without an epoch; as Derrida observes in reference to differance, which remains at all times the underlying movement of scatter, it is an “affirmation foreign to all dialectics” (27). As a result, there is no philosophy of bios and zoe available to us here; there is no affirmative biopolitics in scatter. Rather, it is thinking in the name of blind tactics, empirical wandering (Derrida, 7), and the circumventing of the willful politics of the decision, of any specific political consciousness, and of the operation or action of a subject on an object. In scatter sovereignty is nothing and the only democracy worthy of the name would be an-archic.

This is, of course, a fundamental project for our times, understanding our times as our atrocious, forced familiarity with a seismic shift in the coordination of teleology and eschatology that we have come to call globalization. Half a century ago, in “The Ends of Man”, Derrida first approached the question of dignity and democracy, highlighting the following limit: “What is difficult to think today is an end of man which would not be organized by a dialectics of truth and negativity, an end of man which would not be a teleology in the first person plural” (121). Fifty years later our phrasing would have to be slightly different, since that limit evoked by Derrida has been displaced by the globalizaton of techne and the determination of humanity as standing reserve. In these dire circumstances, we might now have to say that what is difficult to think is an end of man that could possibly be organized by a dialectics of truth and negativity, an end of man that could possibly be a teleology in the first person plural, other than that which leads to the eschaton of complete nomic collapse, of course.

It is in this context that Bennington returns to Derrida’s approach to, and distancing from, the Kantian stipulation that a dignity “worthy of the name” be returned to politics, in such a way that a new politics—a repoliticization, another concept of the political—be forged in which rational beings are treated always as an end, “and not merely as a means to be arbitrarily used by this or that will” (Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals). What is ultimately at stake (and this is inevitable in this proposition) is the aporia of a political re-instrumentalization of man as an end in itself, rather than as a value, even though dignitas is only ever an expression of value—of a certain auctoritas—and, as such, the expression of a certain property of the State. The question of force still, and perhaps only ever, haunts this attempt to make room for, and to distance oneself from, dignity in the politics, property and titles of the State.

Bennington asks: “Is it possible to think of a dignity that is not bound up in (and, one might be temped to say, compromised by) the teleological structures of the Kantian Idea?” It is this question that leads to the question of the structure of (in)dignity—the constitutive indignity—that upholds “the supposed dignity of [all] metaphysical concepts”. From an infrapolitical, rather than from a classical political perspective, what is at stake here is how to try to make room not for dignity in real politics, and therefore in the administration of force (auctoritas), but to let the dignity of a remove from the metaphysics of force (that is, a constitutive indignity) be involved in existence. With this question of constitutive indignity in mind, we are left to wonder if there is an infrapolitical inflection—an inflection that is without doubt akin at all times to the protocols of deconstruction, but that is not necessarily bound by the protocols of deconstruction—; I repeat, is there an infrapolitical inflection available to us that might allow us to reckon with the distance from auctoritas, from the property titles of the State or the dignity of metaphysics, from a site other than that of the Kantian inheritance that Derrida reckons with from “The Ends of Man” (1968) all the way through to the end itself in 2004?

At this point I will merely offer an example, and that, precisely, is the weakness of everything that follows (though in Specters of Marx Derrida notes that “an example always carries beyond itself; it opens up a testamentary dimension” (41). I wonder, then, whether in the example there lies the problem and possibility of an infrapolitical inflection that turns away from the political, and turns in the direction of allowing that the dignity of a remove from force be involved not in politics, but in existence.

Of all people, it is Cicero the elderly statesman who might exemplify such an inflection. In a brief essay published in 1960, the Oxford classicist J.P.V.D. Balsdon recounts Cicero’s return from exile and ultimate political capitulation in 56BC, when, in the face of “the prolonged triumph of gangsterdom which followed his exile” (49), Cicero found himself obliged to turn his back on the dignity and prestige of a public life. He had become an ineffective pariah in the motley world of populist resentment. What is at stake in Balsdon’s treatment of this moment in the history of the Republic are the slight shifts in Cicero’s uses of the terms dignitas and otium, together, at this particular time of capitulation and relinquishment.

In general, the term otium referred to the private or retired, as opposed to active public, life. However, in public life otium could also refer to peace and freedom from disturbance, or relief after war and internal disorder (47). It referred to a form of serenity or harmony in the wake of war. Upon Cicero’s political capitulation, Balsdon says, “the opening remark of the De Oratore, [signaling pseudos] which was finished in 55, introduces the new conception ‘cum dignitate otium’. ‘Otium’ is now retirement, the condition of the elder statesman who turns his back on the political. His active political life, his consulships and proconsulships are at an end (49). “Battling through the stormy seas of popular agitation”, observes Balsdon, Cicero had to “make for a different harbor . . . ‘cum dignitate otium’” (50). For the classicist Balsdon this is a harbor of studious relief from disturbance, freedom from agitation, and relief after war and internal disorder, for “persistence in opposition which was doomed to ineffectiveness would not, for the Roman world at large, promote “cum dignitate otium’” (50).

Learning to turn one’s back on the political in order to exist “cum dignitate otium”, learning to be without or in the absence of the dignitas of auctoritas, and, as a result, detouring back toward the constitutive indignity of the pre-political, and doing so while understanding at all times the agitations of the world of force, Cicero would have confronted and suffered the weight of a dignity uprooted from all titles of community. This would have been a dignity without dwelling in political life, and therefore not entirely worthy of its name, since at the same time it would have been a return to a constitutive indignity that was destined to always fall short of the political metaphysics of gathering, of majesty, or of any harbor.

Surely Cicero would have lived it as a “sad or sober pragmatic renunciation of some fuller version of dignity”, as Bennington puts it at the end of Scatter. But perhaps one could speculate that it is here—“cum dignitate otium”, in the infrapolitical turn back to a constitutive indignity that is exposed to real and symbolic death itself—that one could learn to exist, think, and write in an infrapolitical rather than a political fashion. It is there that one might have to learn to live with the without, in such a way as to exist not in the name of dignity or of a future politics or communal title anchored by the sublime or the general structure of “going beyond”, but in the name of a without that nevertheless lets the dignity of the remove from the public world of force be involved in existence. Perhaps it is cum dignitate otium’s passive movement of allowing to be involved in existence—of a care for that which comes at a remove from the biopolitical orientation and administration of forcethat forges the possibility not of a new democratic form, of a re-democratization built liberally on the logics of inclusion and exclusion, but of an infrapolitical scatter of mastery and title that casts freedom from among the ashes.

Ya no una réplica. A Sebastiaan Faber. Por Alberto Moreiras.

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Gracias, Sebastiaan, por tu respuesta. Vamos a dejar a un lado en todo lo posible lo ad hominem, aunque no sea nunca totalmente posible, pues al fin y al cabo hablamos de palabras escritas por otros.   Pero a mí no podría traerme más sin cuidado lo de “dar caña,” que es una expresión que yo asocio, efectivamente, con lo peor y más castizo de la cultura española.   Desde luego quiero desmarcarme explícitamente de cualquier lectura que suponga que yo defiendo a Cercas y te ataco a ti. Ni defiendo (ni ataco) a Cercas, sino a su novela, ni te ataco (ni te defiendo) a ti, sino a tu reseña de la novela, con respecto de la cual ya dije que tenía objeciones de fondo, que expuse.

Pongamos que Menéndez Pelayo es el más listo o sabio y castizo de los dadores de caña, cazaherejes de larguísimo aliento—un hombre cuyo talento como crítico literario y cultural quedaba siempre en segundo plano, quizá por discreta modestia, ante lo que para él necesariamente imperaba, que era cuidar las esencias de la verdad política del corral hispano tal como él la entendía. A mí me interesa, en mi propia práctica, no tomar a Menéndez Pelayo como modelo, ni por activa ni por pasiva, ni directa ni inversamente.   Ni a sus numerosos discípulos por la derecha y por la izquierda. Es posible que el menéndezpelayismo, en cuanto estructura, sea la constante más fiel de nuestra historia crítica. Yo defiendo una forma alternativa de relación con el mundo en la que cazar brujas no tiene lugar, o es lo que hacen los otros, quizás porque sé y me consta que yo mismo podría caer de bruja en cualquier redada, y no me apasiona la papeleta. Que conste—ya sé que consta—que no hablo de la tarea crítica como intento de gozar de paz perpetua: el desacuerdo y el conflicto no son solamente legítimos, sino que son lo que hay, lo que siempre hay, y nada es más violento que la supresión misma del conflicto, la pretensión de que no lo hay o de que no debería haberlo. Hay conflicto, y es el conflicto lo que da lugar a la necesidad crítica. También, por supuesto, a la política.

Pero nada de dar caña—al menos por mi parte. Nuestro intercambio tiene por otro lado la posibilidad de dar pie a una discusión más amplia y despersonalizada, más allá de ti y de mí, también más allá de Javier Cercas, y quizás debiéramos aprovechar la ocasión. Ojalá otros también lo hagan. No intento contestarte a todo ni devolverte la lectura “punto por punto” ni nada por el estilo. Me repetiría. Voy más bien a lo que más me interesa.

Yo creo que la cuestión de fondo es la siguiente: un escritor—un novelista, un filósofo, un artista—, en la medida en que lo es, tiene su verdad vital en su tarea, en cuanto obra o en cuanto desobra, en cuanto logro de escritura o fallo de escritura. Al margen de eso, esa persona puede tener innúmeras opiniones políticas y deportivas, sobre el amor o la caza, sobre la ciencia o la historia. Pero a mí, desde la opinión de que cada uno es muy dueño de tener las opiniones que le parezcan, faltaba más, no me interesan particularmente sus opiniones. Si a mí esa persona llega a interesarme, me interesa como novelista, como filósofo, como artista. Y así yo no tendré ningún inconveniente en juzgarlo políticamente, pero tendería a hacerlo desde sus ideas tal como estén reflejadas en su obra (o en su desobra), y por cierto no en su obra en general, sino en la obra bajo consideración en cada caso. La diferencia entre ideas y opiniones es un viejo caballo de batalla de Nietzsche, pero no ha dejado de ser relevante desde entonces.   Hoy, particularmente, parece haber muchas más opiniones que ideas, y eso es también verdad en nuestro malhadado campo profesional—hablo de ese “hispanismo norteamericano” que impacienta a Cercas, pero como supones no solo de él.   Y eso es un problema. No podemos pretender hacer nuestro trabajo privilegiando opiniones, y sobre todo no podemos naturalizar el reino de la opinión como dador de mérito y prestigio, o como acarreador de deshonra y oprobio.   Las opiniones están muy bien, para amigos y conocidos, o para los pájaros, pero profesionalmente uno debiera preferir alguna idea que otra.

Si Pablo Iglesias escribiera una novela, a mí, suponiendo que se me ocurriera leerla, no me interesaría procesarla desde las opiniones políticas del líder, por muy líder que sea, o por muchas opiniones políticas que tenga. Cuando publica una novela, nos invita a leerla para entenderla, y si quieres para pasar juicio sobre ella, pero desde la idea de esa novela, no desde las opiniones que la circunden.   Decir esto no me coloca en ninguna arcaica o árquica posición de crítico textualista. Se trata más bien de algo otro: no tengo tiempo para perderlo en evaluar si la chorrada dicha el viernes en la radio o la frase conmovedora pronunciada en la televisión pueden explicar la novela o el tratado. Todo mi tiempo está más bien ocupado en saber si es la novela o el tratado el que suelta chorradas o entona conmovedoras oraciones. No me parece que esto sea trivial, y tampoco me parece que esto sea ninguna marca generacional.   Para mí traza la diferencia entre una lectura hermenéuticamente digna y una lectura sobredeterminada por consideraciones ajenas a la tarea a la mano.  Hasta puedo admitir que la “política” sea una de las consideraciones más urgentes en eso que constituye la tarea a la mano.  Pero no se trata entonces de cualquier “política,” en el sentido de que lo que menos importa son las piedades o las torpezas políticas que se expresen en la literalidad del texto.  Se trata de otra cosa, ni mucho menos accesible al tipo de crítica en curso, hoy incluso dominante.

Y seamos francos: hace ya bastantes años y décadas o siglos que la crítica castiza se orienta hacia la reducción absoluta de toda idea posible desde la circunscripción a opinión de todo lo pensable—y aún encima, a opinión política. Condenamos y celebramos según la opinión política del personaje de turno. Como hacía Menéndez Pelayo. Juzgamos obras y carreras desde las opiniones de los sujetos que las detentan, cuando no, peor, desde el rumor sobre las opiniones que se detentan, desde la sospecha de las opiniones que se rumorean: caza de brujas como práctica heroica de la crítica, de izquierdas o de derechas; caza de brujas biempensante, qué horror.  Y eso es curioso, porque a mí me parece que las opiniones políticas, sobre todo cuando se expresan públicamente, son en general falsas y tramposas—este puede ser un prejuicio mío, pero en todo caso es un prejuicio muy meditado. No me fío ni un pelo de los oradores políticos, sean viejos caimanes taimados o apasionadas mujeres en la flor de la edad. Conozco a mucho mentiroso, y he visto demasiadas cosas en mi vida—y sobre todo he visto cómo las opiniones políticas vienen y van, y lo que queda es siempre distinto.   Conozco a demasiados opinionantes que han montado su carrera sobre su capacidad opinionante, y conozco, en cambio, a pocos que se esfuerzan por alguna otra cosa, que sin duda les lleva a errores y líos, a pérdidas y errancias varias.  Así son las cosas.  Será que hago poca vida social, o que la hago solo entre marranos.

Es por supuesto necesario hablar de política, y deberíamos cuando lo hacemos en todo momento tratar de restituirle a la política su dignidad necesaria. Por eso a mí me parece que la verdadera política—la verdad política—de alguien está siempre y solo en lo que hace y no en lo que dice. Y esto es cierto para todo bicho viviente, y por ende para el escritor, o para el crítico. Es cierto para Cercas, o es cierto para lo que a mí me interesa de Cercas, a quien de antemano le reconozco el derecho absoluto de tener las opiniones que le vengan en gana. No son asunto mío en la medida en que Cercas no está vinculado a mí como lo pueden estar personas más cercanas, con respecto de las cuales tomarles la opinión en cuenta es ineludible. Lo que me importa, de Cercas, por ejemplo, es si su escritura me sirve a mí para algo, para pensar, por ejemplo, en la política, en la historia, en el amor, en la relación de uno consigo mismo, en lo que sea. Y la escritura es lo que hace Cercas, no lo que dice.

En esta discusión creo que lo único realmente relevante es juzgar si la novela de Cercas es una novela que da algo más que opiniones, algo más que posiciones, algo más que gestos subjetivos—que es justo aquello que parece agotar casi toda la novelística española contemporánea, y la crítica, con escasas pero magníficas excepciones.   Tú piensas que la novela de Cercas no es admirable, yo sí. Esa sería, me parece, la única discusión pertinente entre nosotros a propósito de Cercas.   Ahí tenemos un desacuerdo que, quizá, no pueda ser mediado. Ninguna disertación mía lograría quizá convencerte de que lees mal la novela, igual que posiblemente no puedas convencerme tú a mí tampoco de que no se trata de una novela magnífica, que dice algo, y que dice algo que es verdadero para quien lo pueda entender. O para los muchos que sí lo entienden, como creo que yo mismo, sin ir más lejos. Quizá porque yo, como tantos, también he tenido familia en el campo franquista, aunque esto está muy lejos de parecerme una condición de entendimiento.

No sé, claro, si estás de acuerdo con mi determinación de lo que yo defino como la única zona de acuerdo o desacuerdo relevante. Quizás entonces haya que hablar también de estilos de la crítica, y haya que dejar que prolifere el conflicto, que ojalá sea siempre de ideas y no de aburridas opiniones.   Lo único necesario es evitar que “dar caña” al enemigo político se nos vaya de la mano y que ese acabe siendo el estilo.   Por razones fundamentalmente políticas: sería terrible un mundo así, el mundo castizo del que la historia de España ha dado ya tantos ejemplos.   Este es el corazón del problema que lleva a este intercambio, me parece.   Yo pienso que hay que cuidarse de la descalificación del otro desde ninguna suficiencia cultural, desde ninguna creencia de que uno está en lo cierto, y mucho menos en lo políticamente cierto y piadoso.   La crítica, el pensamiento, deberían ser otra cosa—y la esfera pública, en la que por cierto, yo ni juego ni aspiro a jugar papel alguno, puede irse a paseo.

Como digo, uso nuestro primer intercambio como medio para plantear una discusión más amplia, y de invitar a otros a participar en ella. Ni es mi intención ni mi estilo buscar que te des personalmente por aludido en nada de lo que he dicho.  Sé que tú lo entiendes ya así, siendo quien eres–esta es realmente una frase para otros.

 

 

 

Sobre El monarca de las sombras: respuesta a Alberto Moreiras

IMG_5254Antes que nada, quiero agradecer a Alberto Moreiras que haya expuesto sus discrepancias con mi reflexión sobre El monarca de las sombras, el último libro de Javier Cercas, públicamente, para así permitir un intercambio también público de pareceres.

Si le entiendo bien, a Alberto le chocan varias cosas diferentes en mi argumento. Le parece que he leído mal el libro de Cercas (“una obra admirable”), sin apreciar su móvil central ni su calidad literaria; que he aplicado criterios simplistas (criterios demasiado políticos, prejuiciados y esquemáticos) para entender y juzgarlo; y que en mi texto no empleo el tono apropiado: que me expreso de forma demasiado personal, hiriente y autosuficiente. De hecho, mi texto le parece directamente nocivo y acaba por desaconsejar su lectura.

Debo confesar que la cuestión del tono es la que más zozobra me produce. Me consta que no siempre soy capaz de resistir la tentación de la hipérbole efectista o de la ironía quizás excesivamente punzante. Que ese gusto por la agudeza polémica se lea como autosuficiencia o arrogancia es algo que lamento de verdad, más aún si así acabo por socavar mi propia credibilidad. Me preocupa que pueda dar la impresión de no tener ningún reparo en cuestionar la legitimidad o autoridad de otros al mismo tiempo que asumo la mía propia como dada. Es verdad que intento siempre expresarme de forma clara, directa y entretenida, una voluntad de estilo que puede tener, como efecto colateral, el acabar siendo insufrible. Pero la autosuficiencia es otra cosa: implica no admitir crítica o visiones alternativas porque uno se basta a sí mismo. Y mi concepto del trabajo intelectual es el contrario: para mí, el conocimiento y la comprensión nacen de, y sobreviven gracias al diálogo. Siempre veo mis lecturas y reflexiones como tentativas, en espera de contestación; una jugada nada más de un esperado juego dialéctico.

En ese espíritu, vayan un par de apuntes en respuesta a las críticas que el texto de Alberto desarrolla, que de hecho son similares a las críticas que el propio Cercas anticipa a su obra en las entrevistas.

Al comienzo de mi texto sobre El monarca, hago un intento por ubicar a Cercas en el paisaje intelectual en el que opera, con el fin de intentar establecer hasta qué punto este nuevo libro afecta esa ubicación. Esto a Alberto le sorprende. “Resulta que hoy”, nota, molesto, “a los intelectuales o a los artistas o a los historiadores, por lo menos a los españoles, hay que interrogarlos en relación con el lugar que ocupan o quieren ocupar en la esfera pública española. Es una nueva —pero no tan nueva— modalidad de la crítica castiza. En realidad es la más castiza de las críticas”.

No entiendo muy bien la objeción. Publicar un libro es un acto de intervención en la esfera pública. Publicar un libro sobre un tema que ha sido objeto de intenso debate durante unos veinte años lo es todavía más. Cercas tiene una presencia en la esfera pública: como novelista y como intelectual (o articulista). En su calidad de comentarista de la actualidad se dirige al público en general todos los domingos. Ocupa una posición institucional e ideológica. Si sale con un texto nuevo, cabe preguntarse cómo ese nuevo texto se relaciona con esa posición. ¿Qué hay de “castizo” en ello? Me parece un ejercicio crítico habitual, aplicable a todos los contextos. Alberto ocupa un lugar determinado en el paisaje académico norteamericano, en su campo y en la esfera pública española. Yo también. Alberto, parece, lee la frase “qué lugar ocupa” como síntoma de una voluntad reduccionista, un intento por encasillar a Cercas de antemano, y para siempre, en un burdo esquema partidista, algo que de hecho no tiene que ver con mi premisa. Así, quizá el reduccionismo está en declarar, como hace Alberto: “Lo bueno es ser de Podemos y no ser de ‘la casta’, y todo lo demás es sospechoso, para el crítico au courant, o directamente malo”. Creo que eso sí que implica encasillarme a mí como militante dogmático.

Es verdad que mi recepción del texto está —cómo no— condicionada por la producción de Cercas hasta la fecha; su producción literaria tanto como periodística, dos géneros que, en su caso particular, funcionan como vasos comunicantes. De hecho, sus textos muchas veces tratan de los mismos temas y es común que Cercas cite sus propios columnas y artículos en sus libros. También es verdad que, junto con autores como Morán o Sánchez-Cuenca, creo que la esfera pública española ha sido un espacio en que se ha venido librando una lucha de relatos sobre el pasado, el presente y el futuro de España; y que Cercas ha sido un participante activo en esa lucha. ¿Es posible leer este libro sin tomar en cuenta la actividad pública del autor, todo aquello que para Moreiras es mero “ruido”? Claro que sí, pero a mí esa lectura no me parece que sea necesariamente más legítima, o menos “contaminada”, que la que lee el libro en el contexto en que fue escrito y publicado.

Con respecto al propio libro, Alberto no está de acuerdo en que uno de sus temas principales sea la dinámica entre vergüenza y orgullo en torno a la filiación: la tensión entre, por un lado, el genuino afecto familiar (el amor de la madre a su tío; el amor del narrador a su madre) y, por otro, la cuestionable posición política del tío abuelo y, por extensión, la de su familia. Pero el Cercas narrador deja bastante claro que esa posición política de su familia fue durante muchos años una fuente de vergüenza. (Habla de un “territorio íntimo, opaco y vergonzante”.) Mi argumento es que lo que el libro relata es la resolución de esa tensión y la superación de esa vergüenza. Así resume Alberto mi lectura:

El problema filiativo de Cercas sería que en esta “nueva novela” (pero no es una novela) no hay catarsis, sino vergüenza, la vergüenza de “los orígenes políticos de [su] familia” (4).  No hay catarsis, entonces, sino, dice descaradamente Faber, “una salida del armario” (4), es decir, insólito juicio, Cercas estaría asumiendo su propia filiación franquista con orgullo en El monarca de las sombras.

Para precisar, no dije que no hubiera catarsis, sino que la catarsis en este libro consiste en la resolución de la tensión entre filiación y vergüenza. Esa resolución se produce cuando Cercas por fin se da cuenta de que va a ser capaz de relatar la historia del tío, y de su familia, de forma que le permita sentir otra cosa que no sea vergüenza. La resolución la logra Cercas de varias maneras. Investiga todo lo que puede sobre su tío abuelo y, en los capítulos pares, usa los resultados de esa investigación para narrar la historia de su vida a modo de historiador “objetivo”. También interpreta el destino de su tío abuelo a la luz de ejemplos literarios e históricos, en particular la épica homérica (en la cual el tío Manuel se convierte en un trasunto de Aquiles). En la apoteosis del libro, que se produce cuando el narrador y su madre entran a la casa donde murió el tío abuelo, el narrador, “eufórico”, acaba por asumir su filiación como una parte inevitable de su identidad. Esa asunción de su herencia también incluye la oportunidad —si no el deber— de narrar la historia del tío abuelo, de forma que, en lugar de sólo vergüenza, también pueda ser una fuente de orgullo. La cita es larga pero me parece mejor ponerla entera:

… por fin iba a contar la historia que llevaba media vida sin contar, iba a contarla para contarle a mi madre la verdad de Manuel Mena, la verdad que no podía o no me atrevía a contarle de otra forma, no sólo la verdad de la memoria y la leyenda y el fantaseo, que era la que ella había creado o había contribuido a crear y la que yo llevaba escuchando desde niño, sino también la verdad de la historia, la áspera verdad de los hechos, iba a contar esa doble verdad porque contenía una verdad más completa que las otras dos por separado y porque sólo yo podía contarla, nadie más podía hacerlo, iba a contar la historia de Manuel Mena para que existiera del todo, dado que sólo existen del todo las historias si alguien las escribe, pensé, pensando en mi tío Alejandro, por eso iba a contarla, para que Manuel Mena, que no podía vivir para siempre en la volátil memoria de los hombres igual que el Aquiles heroico de la Ilíada, viviera al menos en un libro olvidado como sobrevive el Aquiles arrepentido y melancólico de la Odisea en un rincón olvidado de la Odisea, contaría la historia de Manuel Mena para que su historia desdichada de triple perdedor de la guerra (de perdedor secreto, de perdedor disfrazado de ganador) no se perdiera del todo, iba a contar esa historia, pensé, para contar que en ella había vergüenza pero también orgullo, deshonor pero también rectitud, miseria pero también coraje, suciedad pero también nobleza, espanto pero también alegría, y porque en esa historia había lo que había en mi familia y tal vez en todas las familias —derrotas y pasión y lágrimas y culpa y sacrificio—, comprendí que la historia de Manuel Mena era mi herencia o la parte fúnebre y violenta e hiriente y onerosa de mi herencia, y que no podía seguir rechazándola, que era imposible rechazarla porque de todos modos tenía que cargar con ella, porque la historia de Manuel Mena formaba parte de mi historia y por lo tanto era mejor entenderla que no entenderla, asumirla que no asumirla, airearla que dejar que se corrompiera dentro de mí como se corrompen dentro de quien tiene que contarlas las historias fúnebres y violentas que se quedan sin contar, escribir a mi modo el libro sobre Manuel Mena era, pensé en fin, lo que siempre había pensado que era, hacerme cargo de la historia de Manuel Mena y de la historia de mi familia, pero también pensé, pensando en Hannah Arendt, que ésa era la única forma de responsabilizarme de ambas, la única forma también de aliviarme y emanciparme de ambas, la única forma de usar el destino de escritor con el que mi madre me había escrito o en el que me había confinado para que ni siquiera mi madre me escribiese, para escribirme a mí mismo.

Asumir públicamente, con un punto de orgullo, lo que uno ve como parte esencial de su identidad aunque hasta ese momento haya sido motivo de vergüenza: ¿no es afín al proceso que llamamos salir del armario? Además llama la atención el paralelismo entre este pasaje sobre el tío abuelo (figura filiativa) y el final de Soldados de Salamina, donde el narrador, también eufórico, en el tren de regreso después de conocer a Miralles (figura afiliativa), decide contar su historia (“allí vi de golpe mi libro, … supe que, aunque en ningún lugar de ninguna ciudad de ninguna mierda de país fuera a haber nunca una calle que llevara el nombre de Miralles, mientras yo contase su historia Miralles seguiría de algún modo viviendo …”).

Para Alberto, en cambio, El monarca no se trata de política, o al menos no es su enfoque central. Escribe:

El libro —no es novela, o llamarlo novela es perezoso— cuenta el esfuerzo por rastrear lo que queda, lo que es todavía averiguable.  …  Se trata … de entrar en relación con fantasmas familiares, y de enfrentar la relación con una madre anciana y cerca de su muerte. Se trata también de solucionar, literariamente, el trauma encriptado de la emigración. Y se trata de indagar, literariamente, en qué cosa sea una muerte en la flor de la vida, y si no es mejor vivir una vida larga y sencilla y poco heroica. Se trata, sobre todo, como siempre en la escritura, que es, en el mejor de los casos, interpretación de la vida en su facticidad, no en su idealidad, de solucionar problemas personales, muy al margen de su inscripción en la esfera pública, aunque por supuesto expuestos a ella.

Todo esto, me parece, es verdad; el libro, en efecto, se enfrenta a fantasmas familiares; reflexiona sobre la relación con la anciana madre; recuenta los efectos de la emigración a Catalunya y reflexiona sobre el significado de la vida a la luz de una muerte joven en batalla. Pero lo que les da peso a estos cuatro elementos, lo que hace que sean tan difíciles (y al mismo tiempo tan necesarios) de enfrentar para el narrador, no es un marco que sea pura o limpia o abstractamente personal o existencial: es la intersección de esa historia personal con un marco colectivo, histórico y político. Un marco en que las consecuencias de las decisiones y actuaciones políticas de los últimos 80 años siguen reverberando de forma muy tangible en la España actual: política, social y económicamente. Es lo que quise decir cuando decía que el problema de la filiación “pesa como una losa” sobre Cercas: el libro parece sugerir que, para avanzar en la vida individual y colectiva, nos toca asumir nuestras herencias para poder liberarnos de ellas.

En el caso de Cercas, este proceso pasa por narrar la historia de su familia, y de su tío abuelo, de forma que le permita rescatarlos como políticamente equivocados pero moralmente admirables. Pero esta distinción entre moral y política le permite no sólo narrar las peripecias de Manuel Mena en clave épica, sino, en última instancia, librarle del todo de la responsabilidad moral de su decisión política: “le engañaron haciéndole creer que defendía sus intereses cuando en realidad defendía los intereses de otros y que estaba jugándose la vida por los suyos cuando en realidad sólo estaba jugándosela por otros. Que murió por culpa de una panda de hijos de puta que envenenaban el cerebro de los niños y los mandaban al matadero”. Aquí, me parece, hay un escamoteo: en Cercas, la afectividad o sentimentalidad de la filiación asumida acaba por impedir una relación crítica (y más difícil y dolorosa) con el pasado.

Así nos topamos con la valoración más subjetiva o estética del libro, que para Alberto es “admirable” y para mí no tanto. El problema lo constituye la forma (literaria) en que Cercas se enfrenta en este libro a sus desafíos como hijo de emigrantes, como hijo de su madre, sobrino nieto de un soldado falangista y descendiente de familia franquista. Aunque esos desafíos sin duda son genuinos, no creo que la obra les haga justicia en toda su complejidad. Aquí el problema es de estilo y de encuadre. Para mí, el filtro melodramático que colorea todo el texto le quita profundidad a lo que cuenta. Literariamente, en otras palabras, el libro me suena a falso. Y en la medida en que este relato incorpora la historia, también la deja de cartón piedra.

En cierto sentido, con su texto Alberto me ofrece lo que en holandés llamamos “una galleta de mi propia masa” (een koekje van eigen deeg). Yo le di caña a Cercas; Alberto me la da a mí. Me pone “en mi lugar”, señalando a mi autosuficiencia, y censurando mi tono. Más aún, advierte que si alguna pericia tengo, es de poco fuste puesto que al fin y al cabo, me he “hecho recientemente experto en el tema”. Le agradezco que lo haga con cariño, y me lo tomo en serio. Eso sí, creo que si algo coincidimos es precisamente en un modelo crítico que apuesta por la censura pública; el “dar caña” es un tipo de argumento que inevitablemente parece resbalar hacia la crítica o el apoyo personal (se denuncia “con cariño”). Destaca, por su ausencia, otro tipo de práctica crítica, menos agresiva y competitiva o quizá menos masculina: literalmente, menos “ad hominem”.

Por lo demás —y hablando de autoridad y legitimidad: quién tiene el derecho de pronunciarse sobre un libro, un autor, un país— me parece indispensable lo que hace Moreiras: cuestionar el papel de los supuestos expertos. Es verdad que la historia del hispanismo tiene sus claroscuros, y que ciertos hispanistas todavía desempeñan un papel curioso, anacrónico, como emisores de discurso legitimador o deslegitimador en la España actual. Eso sí: es una desfachatez desvergonzada afirmar, como lo ha hecho Cercas no una sino dos veces, que “hay más de un hispanista norteamericano que hubiera preferido que nos matásemos para luego venir aquí y escribir sus libros”.

Passive Decision by Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott

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Passive Decision

Let me start by thanking Alberto Moreiras for the organization of this workshop, and Geoff Bennington for being part of it.

I want to begin by stating the relevance of Scatter 1, a book not only remarkable in its articulation, rigor, and deep engagement with contemporary post-Heideggerian philosophy, but also a book that has as one of its many merits the configuration of a systematic, yet not conventional, horizon of thinking, a constellation. His readings of Foucault’s Parrhesia, the co-belonging of Aletheia and Pseudos, the complications of Dasein’s Entschlossenheit, the configuration of the quasi-transcendental in Derrida’s engagement with Kant and Heidegger, the relevance of Kierkegaard understanding of time and the Momentum to Heidegger’s early thought, the incompleteness of sovereignty, the folding of dignity and majesty, the problematization of the continuities between the eschatological and the theo-teleological, and so on. Issues that in the book are carefully articulated and masterfully presented to the reader. I have not doubt when I say that this is a fundamental book not only in the general context of contemporary scholarship but also in the most appealing context of the humanities and the future of deconstruction and/in the American university.

Therefore, my few observations now are to be read just as a preliminary reaction to the gift of this book, a reaction that could never be misunderstood as a critique or as an attempt to appropriate the inner complexity of the thinking at stake here. Certainly, the rigorous crafting of its arguments, the meticulous archival work feeding them, the detailed reading and persecution of some key ideas through Heidegger and Derrida’s writings, and the obvious command of contemporary scholarship relevant to its problems, should not conceal the fact that this is also a risky articulation of Heidegger and Derrida relationship. This is a risky book and I should say that there is not thinking without a risk, that the risk taken in its elaboration is proportional to the degree a book departs from merely reproducing what is already known, what has already been said, even if not heard yet. Somehow, hearing what others cannot hear is also risking in a non-conventional way of reading.

I wanted to dwell here because what matters to me is not just the narrative of the book, rather the way in which the author positions himself in the series of problems that configure the relationship between Heidegger and Derrida. And right here it is evident to me that the understanding of the book’s arguments will change as we have access to Scatter 2, a complementary volume that not necessarily will complete the project, but rather will emphasizes, I want to believe, the scattering effect of its architecture, an architecture, if I may say, that is not an architectonic configuration of the fundaments for a new kind of philosophy, for a new philosophical foundation of politics and history. There is not, I dare to say, a “minimal politics” enabled in this architecture, in this scattering, mimicking the “Grand Politics” enabled by the architectonic founding the Critique of the Pure Reason. The politics of politics presented in the book is, on the contrary, an indication of the distance, or better, a way of distancing itself from the onto-political structure of the metaphysical demand imposed on thinking as political thinking, as political philosophy. Moreover, it is not just a deconstruction of political philosophy and its categories, it is a more integral, radical if you want, interrogation of political philosophy as a disciplinary mechanism oriented to control, to give reason, to organize, to en-frame, the scattered condition of the real. In this sense, the politics of politics is not anti-political, neither a-political, but a sort of suspension of the political demand that seems more related to our own infrapolitical insistence.

In other words, the difference between the scatter and the architectonic “models” of thinking should not be overlooked, because it expresses one of the book’s main claims, the difference between Kant’s regulative idea and Derrida’s understanding of the time à venir, which is also reflected in the relationship between thinking and writing. Thinking as writing, since Bennington is able to dwell in the complexity of contemporary thinking without repeating the conventional gesture of reading it as a system, as a gestell, as an already finished and closed moment, as an epoch. Indeed, his work with the authors, and with some “minimal’ and overlooked problems present in these author, problems that seems to be irrelevant to philosophy and to the history of thought, questions the very organization of philosophical work (concerned with Being) as epochality. To put it in other terms, if Schürmann (Broken Hegemonies) is interested in criticize the onto-theo-logical organization of philosophy by bringing to the fore the principial economy that is always articulating and feeding a particular epoch through a donation of language; Bennington, in a more Derridian way, is less concerned with the epochal organization of thought, or with the principial economy articulating and feeding the texts of a particular moment of the onto-theo-logical tradition, and more concerned with the inner and unresolved battle of forces at the core of these texts. And this is an important point to which I should come back in another moment, but it seems to me relevant to point here that what is at stake in it isn’t just a matter related to philosophy and its history, but also to the practice of reading.

I would even say that this is coherent with the problem the book gives to itself as its main concern: temporality as the only “quasi-transcendental” dimension of existence, and here the book could already be read not only as an elaboration of the ambiguities of the kairology and the Pauline understanding of the event, the Momentum, and the resolution as radical decision implied there, but also as a continuation of one of the main issues Derrida identifies in Heidegger and his unsatisfactory elaboration of temporality beyond what he called the “metaphysical or vulgar conception of time”.

Let me put this in another way. One of the merits of Scatter I is the suggestion of Heidegger’s existential analytic as the unavoidable place in which any relevant thinking today should dwell. But it does not mean that thinking should just conform itself with Heidegger’s presentation of Dasein whereabouts; on the contrary, if Being and time is read in the context of Heidegger’s early writings, the problem Bennington is working here takes him beyond Heidegger to Derrida. And not in an easy way, because this elaboration of the Derrida-Heidegger relationship should first of all overcome the many resistance one finds in Heideggerian scholars today, people that still consider deconstruction as a postmodernist passion, while, at the same time, should overcome the resistance to engage Heidegger’s philosophy and its Nazism. Not Heidegger without Derrida, not Derrida without Heidegger. And this is the worth of this book, its problem and its reason. Whether we agree with Bennington’s reading of Heidegger’s “decisionism” or not, with his subtle emphases on Heidegger’s shortcomings and problematic privilege on Being over beings (scatter), or, alternatively, we oppose to this the later Heidegger and the reworking of the ontological difference as something else than the Poem of Being (and all this nomenclature of conservative Heideggerians), what is certain is the relevance of Scatter I in focusing the problem on this unresolved relationship that marks the singularity of our historical occasion (Heidegger-Derrida).

As I already said, there are many important elements to consider here, and I cannot do justice to any one properly in these preliminary comments, but I will just mention two o three of the most appealing questions I have after reading the book. These, of course, are not questions addressed to Geoff, but the mere indication of what would be the topics of a more sustained engagement with the book in the future.

1) The status of philosophy and the problem of power. Let me refer to Derrida seminar of 1964-5 on Heidegger (a seminar which translation we owe to Geoff), when Derrida makes clear that the destruction of the onto-theological tradition is not just the destruction of the classical ontology in order to articulate a new or fundamental ontology organized by the restitution of the question of Being. On the contrary, the destruction of the tradition, of the history of the knowledge about Being, is both, the destruction of all sorts of ontology and, at the same time, the destruction of philosophy as the discourse concerning the traditional disposition of Being. The destruction of philosophy (and one should keep in mind the positive dimension of destruktion more than the “critical” one) is the “suspension” or weakening of its traditional role concerning Being, a role of over-codification that limits every time again, the crucial problem of being as historicity. In this sense, the subtle yet powerful reading of Heidegger performed by Geoff could be interrogated in his unwillingly restitution of Heidegger thought as a “system” (at least in the “systematicy” of his mistakes). This is, again, why confronting this reading with the “reversed” hypothesis of Shürmann’s Heidegger on Being and Acting: from Principles to Anarchy (1987), might be telling for our infrapolitical reflections. What is the relationship of philosophy and power, more than politics, implicated in Scatter I? How to avoid re-philosophizing Derrida’s deconstruction of some philosophical moments without renouncing philosophy as such, in an un-thoughtful philosophical anti-philosophy? I am thinking in Derrida’s comments on Heidegger’s destruction of philosophy as the history of ontology; comments that emphasize how the destruction of philosophy was, besides everything else, an unavoidable engagement with philosophy, the primary place to understand the ontological “capture” of being. I am also thinking, along this way, in Derrida’s understanding of philosophy as a weak institution, nothing to do with the Italian pensiero debole, an institution that is both necessary but always problematic. (I add here what Alberto and Maddalena also commented on this point: not just, what is the status of philosophy in relation to thought? But also, how to avoid in dealing with the tradition of philosophico-political thought being snared by its emphases and economies?)

And I would add a supplementary dimension to this problem related to Heidegger’s National Socialism, as we all somehow know about the unsatisfactory way of dealing with this issue of people like Bourdieu, Farías, Faye; people who cannot deal with the problematic of his thought and reduce, in a sociological way (or just with a great dishonesty) its complexity. If we are to consider Nancy’s early formulation (the best way to confront National Socialism in Heidegger is through his thinking, which is the one that better serves us to formulate in a radical way -not just in a liberal way– the very problem of National Socialism) as a common ground, then we should be able to understand that the very question about the role of philosophical discourses is not innocuous when talking about National Socialism. To put it in a sentence (to which I need to comeback in another moment) the question about the relationship between Heidegger thought and National Socialism is also the question about the relationship between history and philosophy, between historicity and ontology, and in so far as philosophy attempts to condemn Heidegger “mistakes” or his whole thought without questioning the role and “functionalization” of philosophy in general, we remain unable to deal properly with such a problem.

2) The question of eventful thinking and the amphibological understanding of temporality Vis á Vis Derrida’s à venir opposed to the arch-teleological structuration of time in modern philosophy (Kant but also Hegel). Here, I would like to mention what I have been calling for a while the Schmittianism (and the inversed Schmittianism) of contemporary political thought, the thought mainly concerned with the theory of the event (Badiou but also in a more sophisticated way, Agamben and his elaboration of a modal ontology and his Schmittian reading of Benjamin), since in the very conception of the event as an interruption of temporality, what we have is the restitution of the eschatological or theological messianicity of the final judgment that somehow works as a “principle of reason” feeding what, with Heidegger and Derrida, we might call limited historicity. The historicity that still depends upon a particular notion of agency and, therefore, subjectivity, that is always already entrapped in the metaphysical understanding of temporality (Schmitt is, therefore, and besides his anti-Hegelianism, a Hegelian thinkers as his formulation of the political as the quarrel between the friend and the enemy is still snared within Hegel’s powerful understanding of the Subject, and so, most of the contemporary anti-Hegelian thinkers unable to think beyond this particular agency and the political demand that is proper to Hegel, and besides their appealing to multiplicities, multitudes, and so forth).

Bennington’s interrogation of the Kantian regulative idea is crucial as it implies a restitution of the question of time in a form that differs “radically” from the philosophy of history of capital. But (and here I need to refer to Matías late-Friday question which I wasn’t able to respond properly, not because I can respond it now, but because the question, as a gift, implies a interesting problem), what seems relevant now is not just to correct the ambiguities of Heidegger’s in-famous resource to the “vulgar conception of time” in Being and Time, but to think the predominance of time in the understanding of the event (something that seems already stated in Derrida’s Ousia and Gramme), which will take us to the question of space and the Ereignis as an spacialization (appropriation) of being’s existential conditions. This, of course, points toward the topological configuration of Heidegger later thinking, but remains an interesting strategy to articulate the relationship between the onto-theological conceptions of the event (the different kinds of contemporary excepcionalism, Schmittianism), and the onto-political structuration of the political demand to which philosophy feels the need to respond, again and again.

Radical contingency, immanence, event, decision, interruption, etc., are all names that express more than a solution, the complexity of this interrogation. A complexity that, beyond contemporary political thought, is also important to understand, for example, the status of the quasi-transcendental foundation of the pragmatic orientation of language as communicative reason, since this quasi-transcendental foundation of communication, undeniably Kantian in its heart, re-moralizes (and re-transcendentalizes) the immanence of communication itself in Habermas and Apel. Not to mention the ambivalences of Laclau’s understanding of contingency as opposed to the logic of necessity that would have characterized and limited Marxism, a contingency nonetheless still limited to the prerogatives of the hegemonic articulation. Neither Luhmann’s conception of recursivity and complexity, as his theory of system (to which one needs to pay attention) is still fed by an unproblematic theory of differentiation as adaptation that command, from a secret place, the very logic of contingency that characterizes this elaboration. The systematic condition of this contingency, the one he opposed to classical social theory and to Frankfurt scholars, is still en-framed by a secret principle of evolution, one that doesn’t rest any longer on human agency, but in the system’s ability to adapt and evolve.

3) Finally (for now), in considering the co-belonging of aletheia and pseudos as an originary experience of Dasein, the book suggests the pseudos not as a derivative but as a constitutive element in Dasein confrontation with facticity. Even more, there is not way to separate, convincingly, both elements, which implies that the rhetorico-political is not a secondary dimension to immediate facticity but rather it is constitutive of it (the authentic and the inauthentic are always co-dependent and co-belong). The political, that cannot be just a politics of truth (which is always a politics of principles and, therefore, is always already articulated by a particular economy of signification), is, at the same time, to put this in a more challenging way, always already (Immer Schon) originary. Here then the main point, the politics of politics is not only the renunciation to the political demand that is always a moral demand, but it’s also the affirmation of the political as an originary experience of Dasein. Renouncing to the political demand (and to the emphases of political philosophy) is not to assert the secondary character of the political at all.

Infrapolitical is a desistance to the political demand, but not to the political as such, however, infrapolitical does not have as its main concern the reformulation of any sort of political thinking as it is concerned with the existential dimension of life. But if the existential dimension of life is always already rhetorico-politically constituted, how to explain the infrapolitical desistance without appealing to a sort of unpolluted conception of Dasein. How infrapolitics thinks Dasein’s existential decision without falling into solipsism and decisionism (ipseity)? The answer, I would like to suggest, will start by considering the relationship between historicity and the onto-political demand as an ontological over-codification of historicity as such, something one can explores in Derrida’s seminar of 1964-65.

On the other hand, the existential decision formulated by Nancy, as we have been discussing it these last days, would have to be interrogated again to determine whether it is a decision that presents itself and pretend to be something another than politics or not; something before the political experience or a kind of experience related to a politics otherwise. And here, what is at stake is precisely the reception of Heidegger thought in Derrida and the Derridian constellation that Bennington’s book brought to the fore. This is where Ronald’s paper matters and where I believe we all have a “productive” disagreement. This is an important disagreement as we all agree -it seems to me, particularly after Derrida’s own reading of Heidegger during the 64-5 seminar- in considering any reposition of ontology (whether lax, bland, plastic, historical, etc.) to be unsatisfactory. So, the limiting effect of ontology over historicity, the metaphysical formulation of historicity as depending on a notion of reason, consciousness, subject or science (Hegel, Marx, Husserl, et al.), and the inescapable problem of ipseity and alterity, otherness, incompleteness, and so for, beyond any anthropological reduction of the otherness (to multiculturalism, pluralism, multiplicity, etc.) and / or to a closed referentiality (the face, the sexual difference understood as an identitarian issue, etc.,) is the main issue at stake here. Is the politics of politics an attempt to deal with this metaphysical but also, onto-political problem? If so, how are we to think the fold of infrapolitics in the opening of the politics of politics? This is not a problem we may resolve by just opting to still dwell on Heidegger thought or, alternatively, by repeating what seems to be Derrida’s “decision” regarding Heidegger, a decision that is radically problematized by the publication of the 64-5 seminar. Since we are here not to vote and decide, but rather to practice a sort of passive decision, to dwell in the complex problem of the undecidability and the potentiality, a potentiality other than the one realized in the act, we still might take some time to ponder theses issues carefully; after all, to think, as well as to love, is a matter of time, is to give what one doesn’t have.

So I want to finish these preliminary comments to Geoffrey Bennington’s book, Scatter 1, a book worth of a more elaborated engagement, a book that brings with it the possibility of a new academic exchange, beyond narcissism and the principial economy informing our disciplinary emphases. If this is possible, as it seems to me when listening to all of you, then let’s take this occasion to celebrate what Maddalena has called a good book. Thank you.

College Station, March 2017

On Geoffrey Bennington Scatter 1: The politics of philosophy. By Maddalena Cerrato

IMG_6887I am extremely pleased to be here to discuss this book, since it is a very good book, and I mean a “good book” in some sort of “technical” sense… that I would like to try sketch out here as a preliminary self-absolving preamble to my remarks referring to Bennington’s notion of reading.

Good books in a “technical” sense are those books that talk to you in a way that triggers a powerful mixture of projections and magical thinking that makes you feel like what you are reading is concerned about your very own thinking. That is to say – if you allow me to play a little bit more with Heideggerian terms – not that what you are reading somehow reminds you of some dispersed thoughts that initially and for the most part occupied your mind, rather it means that your thinking concerned about your own existence seems to be at stake in what you are reading. Neither this or that everyday thought, nor even a particular “I-have-thought” or “I-was-just-thinking,” but rather an originary thinking that embodies the ecstatic character of temporality and the priority of the future in it. One could say that, technically, “good books” are those books that let themselves be read as though they were concerned about your thinking as thinking that has always-already been there as what is-to-be-thought, as thinking that is projecting toward a potentiality of thinking that has always been there. Ultimately, I am suggesting that we could then define “technically good books” on the basis of such an experience of undecidability between reading and thinking that is at the heart of the reading as Bennington suggests. The specific task of reading is always already exposed to (quote) “potential confusion of authorial ‘voices’ and responsibilities –of who is saying what, who is signing or countersigning what in whose name-“ (55) (end quote). And, such confusion opens up to moments of  undecidability and potential for Täushungs (self-deceit) that concern both the “content” of the reading and the fact of the readings themselves.  So, the sort of intellectual vertigo that marks the experience of a good book, is one of the degrees of undecidability involved in reading, intended as interruption of the hermeneutic closure, to which Scatter1 attests. On this ground, pushing it a little bit further, good books would be those that offer the Kairos for a reading to the extent that they offer a moment of undecidability, that is a moment (an Augenblick) of both “in-sight” and blindness, namely, a moronic moment (see 183). In this sense, the reading of good books always already enacts the “politics of reading,” a decision that interrupts the undecidability at the same time that it interrupts the pretense of interpretative fulfilment.

Ok, maybe, I could have just said that I really enjoyed this book which is very subtle in its analysis and elegant in its argumentative structure, and it gave me plenty of food for thought, but this wouldn’t have given me any excuse to say that if my remarks on “pseudo-Bennington” sound moronic this is none of my fault since it is the book’s itself…for being a good book.

My reading of this book and of the ongoing argument presented – which is indeed not so scattered –  has been marked by the fantasmic presence of many entangled layers of thinking where I dwelled in one way or another for  many years, as well as by the active intrusion of my reading of the multiple readings hosted by another good (even if maybe a little too ambitious) book -Reiner Schürmann’s Broken Hegemonies– and, lastly and more relevantly, by the overall projection into and toward the thought of infrapolitics.  The only – still completely self-referential – way to try to summarize and frame the countless inquietudes, questions, and suggestions emerging from such an explosive mixture is referring them to the relationship between philosophy and community, or maybe in the triad politics-philosophy-community taken in the broadest possible sense.

Behind the doubling up of politics in the locution “politics of politics” where Bennington’s reading starts, there is the inability of dogmatism and moralism to exhaust the realm of politics, to capture it into their normative conceptual structure. Behind this kind doubling up that does not invest only politics, but actually any other practice and or discourse concerned with it, there is an inability of teleological thinking to exhaust the possibility of Being, or rather, Being as a possibility that is always already the possibility of failure, or of the pseudos as primordial distortion. Such an inability calls for an intervention that interrupts with a foolish decision both the attempt of teleological closure of the political by political philosophy, that is also the attempt of metaphysical closure of Being, as well as (it interrupts) the misery/ordeal of undecidability which will still mark, in the mode of spectrality, the decision itself.  “The politics of politics” is a mode of a double rescue of politics from teleology both from its inherently autoimmune (self-destructive) logic – which indeed, as shown by deconstruction, affects all ethico-political concepts worthy of the name, as well as from its failure in exhausting politics.  Such a doubling up of politics is a rhetorical-political gesture that interrupts the teleology, but saves the eskhaton. This eschatological dimension, separated and rescued from teleology, is the possibility of politics in the form of the possibility a scatter of eskhata, of events of decision emerging from the undecidability of truth.

Here is my main inquietude. What is at stake in the ontotheological approach to the undecidability of truth, that is, substantially, the moralistic-dogmatic denial of it, is a certain task of philosophy. What this originary possibility of deceit threatens is, overall, philosophy’s role with regards to the community. As Schürmann put it- this is promoting “the koinon to the level of normative instance capable of consoling the soul and consolidating the city” (9).  There is no room for the equi-primordial pseudos, for originary possibility of distortion or deceit, if the philosopher needs to be able to console the soul and consolidate the city, that is, to absolve of his public function posing the koinon, the common, the norm that legitimizes theoretical and practical rules, as the bond that binds a community. To secure the stability of the laws governing knowledge and acting of the community, to preserve the norm that legitimizes theoretical and practical rules that bind the community, the traditional (political-)philosopher needs to secure the logic of subsumption without remainder through what Schürmann calls the denial of the transgressive withdrawal of singular and of the tragic condition, meaning the denial of the ordeal of undecidability of truth. Ultimately, to preserve the public duty of the philosopher, to secure his function of consoling the soul and consolidating the city as what Schürmann calls the “professional philosopher” – which is (quote) “an altogether bureaucratized version of the philosopher-king” – is what seems still to be at stake both in Foucault’s reclaiming of philosophical parrhesia, as well as in Heidegger’s Entschlossenheit.

The suspicion is that after the end of metaphysics, with the failure of onto-theology, what is at stake in the rescue of the task of the philosopher as the one that institutes the common, the possibility of the community, is the idea that this task represents the only possible ground for something as a community of the so-called philosophers or- as Derrida says – a community of the question.  If this is true, can we then say that at stake in the politics of politics’ rescue of politics is it still what we can call “the politics of philosophy”, meaning the relation of the philosopher with the community in the double instance of the political community and of the philosophical community?

But, how should we then understand the deconstructive and deconstructed triad politics-philosophy-community?  The scatter of eskhata gathering up in the idea of politics of politics certainly cannot be regard as something that builds and organizes something like “an historical community of destiny,” of a community worthy of its name. But if this is the case, this means that – and I guess this is my own haunted decision in this reading – that such a rescued dimension of politics can only be thought as posthegemonic politics.  And, that in this sense the thinking of the existential unconditional conditions of such a politics, the excess, the dignity of life that is since it is marked by the “necessarily-possibly-not” in always already a demi-dignité, seems to be what we have been calling infrapolitics as a common name, a demi-title that happens to gather a scatter of readings (sometimes of good books), that is indeed haunted by its always-necessarily-possible indignity. [1442words = 11min.]

Maddalena Cerrato (Texas A&M University), March 2017

Notas de la reunión con Geoffrey Bennington, 24 de marzo 2017. Por Alberto Moreiras.

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Ayer tuvimos en Texas A&M la oportunidad de escuchar a Geoffrey Bennington hablar sobre su próximo proyecto de libro, “Scatter 2.0,” y de conversar con él sobre Scatter 1. The Politics of Politics in Foucault, Heidegger, and Derrida. La reunión, de más de cinco horas, resultó intensa y fluida, y salieron muchos temas a la luz que iremos retomando en este blog (a partir de la publicación en él de los diversos borradores de intervenciones) o en la publicación futura de esas intervenciones en forma ya más elaborada. Lo que quiero ahora es solo dejar traza de algunas de las cosas más relevantes o estructurantes de la conversación tal como fue. Por supuesto asumo responsabilidad propia por los comentarios que siguen, no quiero ponerlos en boca de nadie que no sea yo mismo.

Quizás puedan mencionarse dos nociones de Bennington que organizan su proyecto: por un lado, las lecturas de textos de la tradición filosófico-política son claves para la deconstrucción de la metafísica; por otro lado, la destrucción de la pretensión teleológica de la filosofía política en general es inmediatamente politizante. “Scatter” es en primer lugar un término que remite a la ruina de la soberanía, y desde la ruina de la soberanía propone la democracia. En cierto sentido los problemas empiezan cuando hay que pensar esa democracia en la ruina de la soberanía: la democracia está siempre asediada por problemas de auto-inmunidad. Entonces, pensar esa relación auto-inmunitaria de la democracia es lo que queda, y ese es quizá el corazón de la “política de la política.”

Por ejemplo, la “paz perpetua” de Kant, aquello que adviene en el momento del logro histórico de la constitución del republicanismo cosmopolita del último humano, puede también ser entendida, y así lo vislumbró ya Kant mismo en su chiste sobre el tabernero holandés, como la paz del cementerio. La propuesta de la estructura del “semi-“ (no hay democracia sino semidemocracia, la soberanía es siempre semisoberanía, etc.) implica un correctivo (racional, lógico) a lo que puede muy bien entenderse como un fallo estructural (auto-inmunitario) del racionalismo.

Pero esa estructura del “semi-,“ que en principio no es más que una estructura que fuerza al pensamiento a una alerta crítica infinita, depende en sí de una pregunta previa, que es la pregunta por lo que resta (lo que resta posible) en el momento de una teleología interrrumpida (que es la versión filosófico-política del fin de la metafísica). ¿Qué puede haber—qué resta como posible—en la época de la teleología interrumpida, cuando ya cualquier pensamiento teleológico de la política se conoce como inviable en y a través de su necesaria deriva auto-inmunitaria?

Bennington dice que él no tiene ninguna pretensión de haber contestado a esa pregunta; y que su “política de la política” no es sino la obligada referencia al paso atrás reflexivo en el momento epocal (histórico) de una política en deconstrucción o en deriva auto-inmunitaria. Tal paso atrás reflexivo tiene dos consecuencias por lo pronto: la primera es una politización inmediata de la palabra o del pensamiento: la estructuración retórico-política del pensamiento no puede ser eludida mediante ninguna postulación de un principio árquico que la contenga—no hay por lo tanto recurso alguno a una posible “política de la verdad,” solo hay una generalización del conflicto. En ese sentido cualquier “arresto” parcial de la deriva retórico-política—en cualquier proyecto de hegemonía, por ejemplo—es inmediatamente visible como impostura; y por lo tanto como algo inmediatamente combatible políticamente.

La segunda consecuencia tiene que ver con si ese recurso a la politización anti-árquica permanente puede organizar una práctica de existencia. La contestación es obvia: solo de manera parcial, aunque irrenunciable.

La conversación derivó entonces a la cuestión de si la infrapolítica es algo que busca ocupar ese espacio vacante—el “más allá” oscuro de la política de la política. ¿Cuál es la relación entre “política de la política” e infrapolítica?

Una forma de verlo es atendiendo a la formulación derrideana de la estructura del suplemento. La infrapolítica es el suplemento de la política de la política, de la misma forma que, en el seminario del 64-65 sobre Heidegger, Derrida hablaba de la desmetaforización como un suplemento necesario a las cadenas metafóricas que organizan el estado de la lengua en cualquier momento dado. La infrapolítica es el recurso desmetaforizador que abre un claro en la luz oscura de la política de la política.

El problema más arduamente debatido fue quizá el problema de si esa sustracción infrapolítica con respecto de la política de la política puede ser pensado como “exscripción,” en el sentido de Jean-Luc Nancy. Nancy dice, en la traducción inglesa de uno de sus ensayos, hablando de la “decisión” en sus términos, que nosotros podemos traducir a los términos de una decisión infrapolítica: “It designates joy liberated in an existence that exists only in its existing—that is, in the free ‘nullity’ of its foundation of Being” (“Decision of Existence,” The Birth to Presence, 107). La existencia que existe en su existir suplementa la “politica de la política,” pero ¿desde dónde? Nancy añade: “it is necessary to understand that decision, its anxiety, and its joy take place ‘outside’ the ‘text’—in existence. (But this also means that decision takes place in what the text, through its writing, ceaselessly exscribes as its owmost possibility” (107).

El estatuto de ese “afuera del texto—en la existencia” provoca resistencia. Hay que notar, sin embargo, que ese afuera no es un afuera absoluto, sino que es solo referible a una “exscripción” siempre ya referida al texto. La existencia por lo tanto no se plantea de otro modo que fácticamente, y no apela a ningún transcendental (que permitiría, por ejemplo, dejar atrás la politicidad constitutiva del animal humano a favor de algún reino fuera de la politicidad). Por otra parte, sin embargo, la existencia es la traza de aquello que permite decirle a esa politicidad constitutiva: “sí, pero . . . “ La infrapolítica se instala en ese “sí, pero . . . “ contra cualquier “prefiero no” bartlebyano.

Conviene remitir todo ello a otras dos discusiones del día: los comentarios heideggerianos sobre la primera oda coral de la Antígona de Sófocles pasan por no convertir “hupsipolis apolis” ni “pantoporos aporos” en frases interrumpidas internamente por una división adversativa. El Dasein se eleva sobre la polis y pierde la polis, pero no hace primero una cosa y después la otra, sino a la vez, en el mismo movimiento; el Dasein está lleno de recursos y se queda sin recursos en el mismo movimiento. Ser apolis y ser aporos son dos fronteras constitutivas o la misma frontera, con respecto de la cual conviene pensar un “afuera” existencial, que no es un más allá de la existencia. Podría pensarse si Derrida pensaba en algo semejante cuando dice en Voyous que la democracia no es del todo un concepto político, sino que algo “a-polis” cruza ya la democracia.

La otra discusión: sobre si Heidegger continua y debe continuar siendo para la deconstrucción el enemigo a reducir, no por su nazismo, sino por su tendencia a usar una metaforicidad específica que no conviene a la metaforicidad diseminante, o “scattered,” preferida por la deconstrucción. Derrida usa a Heidegger de forma parecida a como Heidegger usa a filósofos antecesores. Quizá convenga permitirse más juego con el texto heideggeriano. Eso ayudaría, quizá, a la deconstrucción a pensar su propia estructuración suplementaria.

Entendemos que lo que está en juego en estas discusiones es lo que puede nombrarse como “el futuro de la deconstrucción,” que es también el futuro de un intento de pensar postontológicamente.

Postscriptum to Commentary on Bennington’s Scatter 1. By Alberto Moreiras.

 

There will be no time to comment on this at the Friday workshop, but I want to jot down some thoughts, perhaps for further conversation. It seems to me Bennington’s resolution of the question about the politics of politics in terms of “the unconditional affirmation of the unconditional as the arrival of the event itself” has to do with Nancy’s take on Being and Time’s existential analytic, Nancy’s thought of decision, and Nancy’s understanding of the inconspicuous incident of “the decision of existence.” Obviously Bennington refers crucially to Nancy’s great essay, but in earlier parts of his book. And yet I would like to remark on it, because it seems to me the difference Nancy ends up affirming might be crucial precisely to an understanding of the relationship between politics, politics of politics, and infrapolitics.   A full treatment of this issue must be left for a later time. At the moment, just some observations.

For Nancy, “philosophizing decides to think . . . when it grasps the fact that existence unfolds in the midst of an understanding of Being, and the fact that, while understanding Being in a ‘vague, average’ manner, existence finds itself, in a wholly exceptional and precise way, in an essential (that is, existentiell) relation to its own understanding . . . Thought in its decision is not the thought that undertakes to found Being (or to found itself in Being). This thought is only the decision that risks and affirms existence on its own absence of ground” (Nancy, “The Decision of Existence,” in The Birth to Presence, 84).

The affirmation of existence on its own absence of ground is parallel to the “unconditional affirmation of the unconditional as the arrival of the event itself.”   This is so because “decision” has no positive content—it is merely “the disclosive projection and determination of what is factually possible at the time” (85).   The relationship to the “event” is indicated here: “Decision, in this sense (in a sense that no meaning of the word ‘decision’ will suffice to open, or to decide), is what most escapes existence, or it is that to which and in which existence is most properly thrown—and what offers existence its most proximate, its ownmost or most intimate, advent: Ereignis. . . . Ereignis is, or makes, decision, and decision is, or makes, Ereignis.” (87)

So, “thought is nothing but the exercise of the appropriation of decision” (87). There is no transcendental here, and thought does not leave the existentiell behind. Everything moves in the ontic, that is, in the terrain of what Bennington calls the rhetorico-political.   But thought, and thought’s decision, are precisely a take of/on facticity—a take, a relationship to facticity, not the discovery of an alternative, this time ontological realm.

This take on facticity—some call it deconstruction.   Deconstruction calls for no transcendent, it also dwells in facticity. Otherwise.

The nature of this “otherwise” if of course the crucial kernel of the existential analytic. And it has everything to do with the ontological difference. It in fact “is” the ontological difference.

It has to do with suspending Dasein’s suspension in the everydayness of “average understanding.” “Suspension is suspended, and firmly maintains itself, just in the average ontical floating” (96).

“Therefore, ‘to decide’ means not to cut through to this or that ‘truth,’ to this or that ‘meaning’ of existence—but to expose oneself to the undecidability of meaning that existence is. This can take place only just at ‘uprooted’ everydayness, and just at ‘the impossibility of deciding’” (97).   One does not “cut through” to anything, one does not write or think or say in order to reach a different world. Where would it be?   And the politics of politics is simply that: an exposure to the undecidability of meaning that politics is. But an exposure with a twist.

The twist is called, in Being and Time, just a “modified grasp” that does not abandon the existentiell. This from Heidegger: “existence in its ownness is not something that floats above falling everydayness; existentially, it is only a modified grasp in which such everydayness is seized upon” (quoted by Nancy, 99).   But is the politics of politics something other than a modified grasp of politics in precisely that sense?  No, in my opinion.

The (metaphysical) illusion, the illusion and delusion, powerful as it may be, powerful as it always is, is precisely the reverse of the following: “In decisiveness, there is no decision to be made, or not to be made, by a subject of existence of any sort whatsoever, or by a subject-existent who would emerge to cut through the possibilities offered in the exteriority of the world, in a way that would be consistent or inconsistent with respect to its own Being” (101)

So there are, there would be, at least two decisions. The average one, the metaphysical one, the subjective one, the egoic one—the decision of the hero who cuts through in order to reach a new level of existence, the heroic machination of politics in the modern sense.   And then the other one, from a modified grasp. And I cannot help but think this is the model of Bennington’s “politics of politics:” “Thus ‘decision’ and ‘decided-Being’ are neither attributes nor actions of the existent subject; they are that in which, from the first, existence makes itself into existence, opens to its own Being, or appropriates the unappropriable event of its advent to Being, from a groundlessness of existence. Existing has nothing more its own than this infinite ownability of unownable Being-in-its-ownness. That is the truth of ‘finitude’ (and that is the sole ‘object’ of the existential analytic)” (102-03).

But is there not a sense that, by now, “the politics of politics” is too narrow a phrase? That we should also cut through it? That we should abandon, from existence, the supposition that existence lives in politics, that politics allows no outside?

For one thing, if there is a “joy” that comes from the modified grasp of the one who decides “to exist, to render oneself passible to non-essence” (106), that joy happens “in an existence that exists only in its existing—that is, in the free ‘nullity’ of its foundation of Being” (107).   This joy is no longer the joy of the politics of politics—it is rather the parergonic joy of infrapolitics, which enables a politics of politics.

Nancy makes here a claim, perhaps monstruous for some, which I believe is decisive, and which may mark the difference between what I would like to call the first and the second turns of deconstruction: “It is necessary to understand that decision, its anxiety, and its joy take place ‘outside’ the ‘text’—in existence” (107). Existence escapes the text of the politics of politics.  Its index is infrapolitical joy.

Nancy uses “exscription” for this, which I am calling the infrapolitical parergon. “The excription of a text is the existence of its inscription, its existence in the world and in the community: and it is in existence, and only therein, that the text decides/reaches its decision—which also means in the existentiellity of the text itself, in the anxiety and joy of its work of thought, its play of writing, its offer of reading” (107).

So, infrapolitics, because “thought has no decision of practical, ethical, or political action to dictate. If it claims to do so, it forgets the very essence of the decision, and it forgets the essence of its own thinking decision . . . the essential, active decision of existence. Its necessity is also called freedom . . . but freedom is not what disposes of given possibilities. It is the disclosedness by which the groundless Being of existence exposes itself, in the anxiety and the joy of being without ground, or being in the world” (109)

Which does not make for an antipolitics, only for an otherwise—minimal, maximal—than political.   From which a politics of politics may be thought in or with or for some justice.

 

 

 

A ‘Decision’ for Existence. Preliminary Commentary on Geoffrey Bennington’s Scatter 1. The Politics of Politics in Foucault, Heidegger, Derrida. (Draft.) By Alberto Moreiras.

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I only have ten minutes or so, yet this is such an intense and important book one could only begin to describe it in such a time. I will give that up—I will attempt no description, no summary description, but I am glad to promise a lengthier engagement with the book soon. At this point, since Geoffrey Bennington is with us, and we will therefore have a chance at a conversation, it seems better to me to try to cut right to the chase and perhaps, not ask a few questions, that would be rather impolite, in the order of a set-up, and nothing of the kind is at all intended; what I really want to do is to offer a few thoughts, from my reading, having to do with my current interests and their intersection with Scatter 1 (and certainly also with what we know and with what we have just learned about “Scatter 2”). And those thoughts may or may not open the conversation, but they could be a chance at it, they could offer a possibility for it.

So let me start my attempt from the end of Scatter 1. Bennington tells us or has been telling us all along in the book that its continuation, “Scatter 2,” will be a book about “democracy.” And then, at the end of Scatter 1, Bennington says that a book on democracy is or will be also a book about “the future of deconstruction.”   In this last chapter Bennington’s considerations on “dignity” are offered as an investigation into what seems to be an inversion of the main modus operandi of early deconstruction, which was to question metaphysics from a subordinate term within a given pair of terms.   The second strategy of deconstruction, if we may call it that, will be the solicitation of metaphysically privileged terms, like “dignity,” that find themselves in need, that find themselves in lack. For instance, take “hospitality,” a term that concerned Jacques Derrida for a number of years, through seminars and a number of writings, and which has an important presence in Rogues.   Hospitality, Bennington will say not just following Derrida but really attempting to show what Derrida’s stakes were, is a term never quite worthy of its own name. Hospitality does not seem to be hospitable enough, not even to itself. Or take sovereignty, also from the seminars, also from Rogues—sovereignty is not worthy of its own name, it is never quite sovereign, and of course the same happens to dignity, and certainly the same happens to democracy—democracy is not worthy of its own name.   What indeed is at stake here?

Bennington presents the study of the difficulties that arise through the idiom “digne de son nom,” worthy of its name, as a kind of second-order deconstruction of the Kantian Idea. If the Kantian Idea is always already regulated by an eskhaton, then the gap of dignity, the incommensurability between something and its measure, the brutal fact that things cannot live up to their own promise—well, that is an interruption of the eskhaton, a structural one, and the trace of a blinding point in the Augenblick, in the kairós, an impossibility for any decision to be a decision and a displacement of the core problematic of the political towards something that Scatter 1 has been calling all along “the politics of politics.”

“The politics of politics” is, Bennington has previously told us, “a name for the persistence of the political in the face of all attempted philosophical resolutions of it and indeed for its ability to turn them (and all other philosophical enterprises) into so many rhetorico-political gestures.”   There can be no clear boundary between truth (or philosophy) and rhetoric, which of course means that the range of the rhetorico-political grows exponentially and there is no clear point at which a discourse of truth can oppose political discourse. Dignity, democracy, sovereignty can never constitute themselves into a discourse of truth.   They are only, because unworthy of their own names, demi-dignity, demi-democracy, demi-justice. No hyperbolic denial of their insufficiency, or of their auto-immunity, can organize a politics—or rather, they do, all the time, but it is a bad politics, a self-destroying one. “The politics of politics” is Bennington’s name for what we could call the recognition of the auto-immunitarian drift of any and all political concepts.   He links this to the Derridean “necessary possibilities” structure, namely, to the fact that the conditions of possibility of any political concept are at the same time its conditions of impossibility. Granted, this structure—ultimately, deconstruction—impedes any decisionistic approach to politics, whether from the left or from the right, because it organizes the absolute refusal of the trust in the moment, the kairotic approach, what Kierkegaard, or indeed the Podemos leadership in Spain at the moment, would have referred to as the situation “when the man is there, the right man, the man of the moment.”

The political chance, even the chance of a politics of politics, would have to do with turning demi-democracy into . . . necessarily more demi-democracy, since there is no plenitude, there is no end to the course of insufficiency, and you could never make democracy worthy of its name.   At the same time, this gives you work to do, it creates an infinite finiteness for you, and your task, political, will never be done.   So—the problem: Bennington gives us a formal indication of it in the phrase “the unconditional affirmation of the unconditional as the arrival of the event ‘itself.’”   The democratic event, to be unconditionally affirmed, is the event that demi-democracy cannot be hyperbolically reduced or turned into democracy proper, democracy worthy of its name. This is the “event” of politics—what in fact Jean-Luc Nancy, in an essay that Bennington regards highly and that is commented in the book, “The Decision of Existence,” would perhaps have called “the decision of (political) existence,” through a very particular notion of decision I do not have the time to go into: the event of politics is always the event of the politics of politics, because politics must assume its infinite finiteness, its radical incapacity for hyperbolic closure. This is the path towards a politics concerned with “justice,” which at some point in his book Bennington argues is the arresting trope (the undeconstructible) in Derrida’s tropology of thought.

In my own terms, I would like to say I accept all of this. It does seem to me Bennington is precisely pointing us to a “future of deconstruction” that merges with any possible future of democracy (and justice), and which preempts or organizes the need to stop talking about democracy, or its construction, in terms of hegemony or counterhegemony.   The “necessary possibility” structure means that all hegemony is an illegitimate hyperbolic suture that not only fails to make (political) names worthy of their names, but in fact condemns them to become the very opposite of what they mean (a demi-democracy hyperbolized into full democracy becomes, through hyperbolization, the very opposite of democracy, an unjust democracy.) We have been rehearsing the name “posthegemony” to point out the same thing.

But my main interest has to do with investigating the connection that the politics of politics may have with the other name we have been invoking, that is, with infrapolitics.   What I call infrapolitics in reference to an existence otherwise than political makes no claim to an unpolitical realm of affairs (which would be the equivalent of what the tradition Bennington debunks calls a realm of truth, existential truth if nothing else). Rather, infrapolitics merely claims that the rhetorico-political does not exhaust the world, no matter how much it expands or even while it expands.   Let me offer the thought that infrapolitics might be something like the existential residue of an overextended, hence exhausted, politics of politics.

Nancy’s decision of existence, of which Bennington shows how it connects, through the notion of formal indication, with the totality of Heidegger’s early thought, up to and including the existential analytic and beyond, is already an infrapolitical decision. Infrapolitics marks the point at which the politics of politics remembers, we could say, the ontico-ontological difference, and points to a realm—perhaps the Be-reich the late Heidegger mentioned as the space of play “wherein all relationships of things and beings playfully solicit each other and mirror each other.  Saying is reaching in the sense of [be-reichen] . . . The realm is the location in which thinking and being belong together” (Basic Principles of Thinking [1957])–that is no longer political, no matter how much it is still crossed by politics.

I am running out of time, and cannot do these things justice. I will simply attempt to offer some marks for conversation.   In 1974, barely a year and a half or so from his death, Heidegger, still obsessed with Paul Cézanne’s work on Mount St-Victoire, wrote the following postcript to one of his essays: “What Cézanne names ‘la realisation’ is the appearing of what is presencing in the clearing of presence—in such a way, indeed, that the twofold of both is converted (verwunden) in the simplicity of the pure appearing of its image. For thinking, this is the question of the overcoming of the ontological difference between being and beings. The overcoming, however, is only possible when the ontological difference is first experienced as such and taken into consideration, which again can only occur on the basis of the question of being, as posed in Being and Time. Its unfolding requires an experience of the dispensation of being (Seinsgeschickes). The insight into this is first prepared in a walk along the field path, which finds its way into a simple saying in the manner of a naming of the outstanding, to which thinking remains exposed” (Gedachtes, GA 81: 347-48).

Let me say that infrapolitics could also be referred to as the preparation for a “naming of the outstanding” in the politics of politics: for what out-stands the politics of politics Bennington has so beautifully elaborated. We could talk about the parergon, to use another notion dear to Derrida. Infrapolitics is parergonic thought past the politics of politics, the walk into the Be-reich of play that is also a necessary consequence of the “necessary possibility” structure when applied to the politics of politics.

In Rogues Derrida says that “it is on the basis of freedom that we will have conceived the concept of democracy.”   And he adds, rather enigmatically, a diabolical phrase: “It is not certain that ‘democracy’ is a political concept through and through.” Well, if democracy is not totally political, it is because its concern with freedom makes it partially infrapolitical.   To my mind, that “democracy” may not be a political concept through and through organizes the link between infrapolitics and posthegemony in the corollary that politics is not the parergon of deconstruction.   Deconstruction insists, or de-sists, in the politics of politics, but it calls for a parergon to it, to the extent deconstruction also out-stands its own position in order to be worthy of its name, where the politics of politics is un-worked in the direction of an enigmatic freedom we have not yet begun to glimpse. To sum it up, inadequately, but not as a provocation: I for one cannot conceive of a future of deconstruction that does not walk the path of infrapolitics.

Respuesta a Juan Carlos Quintero Herencia. Por Alberto Moreiras.

Querido Juan Carlos,

Ya sabes por facebook que en mi otra vida yo soy Slow Poke, el ratoncito perezoso mexicano, así que entiendo bien lo de la tardanza, y todavía me parece que fuiste algo deprisa. De rigor es darte las gracias efusivamente por haberte leído el libro, y también por la invitación (privada) a responderte y seguir el tono epistolar de tu texto. Como todo el mundo sabe, los lectores tienen pleno derecho a llevar su lectura por donde dios les de a entender, y el autor no tiene más que aguantarse, aun estando agradecido por una atención prestada que de ninguna manera va por descontada en ningún caso. Lo que lamento, y por ti, es que tu “contexto,” como lo llamas, ese ambiente, sea tan malsano y odioso, y consumado en el racismo invertido de un campo profesional que yo he experimentado numerosas veces bajo la forma, insólita pero real (se trata de una cita, no me lo invento), del “gallego de mierda, go home.” Sí, gracias, ya lo hice hace algún tiempo, por eso, te aseguro, la frase del subtítulo del libro que refiere al “abandono de la conciencia desdichada” refiere en primer lugar al abandono de todo ese ambiente invivible que mencionas quizá un poco demasiado deprisa. Yo ya no estoy ahí, ni quiero estarlo. Ese lugar no es el mío, nunca lo fue, ni se lo disputo a nadie. Y por cierto, seguro que he sido muchas veces un “extraño latinoamericanista” y hasta un “gallego de mierda,” pero no recuerdo haber sido un “español antipático,” desde luego no con mis amigos, que en principio son todos los que no me hacen llegar señales inequívocas de lo contrario (aunque algunos son más que eso). Es extraordinario lo que cuentas—no creo haber merecido tanta consideración, y menos por supuesto de la gente que ni siquiera ha leído mis textos, sin duda los más con mucho. Así que uno tiene que preguntarse de dónde tanta basura. Sobre “lo que pasó allí” nadie que no lo sepa de primera mano tiene el más mínimo derecho a opinar—opinar es maldad cuando no es mera majadería. O será las dos cosas.  Pero déjame decir que la complicidad, esa de la que hablas, con aquello que pasó allí no está desvinculada del horror de la censura intelectual, de que no le dejen a uno decir lo que piensa, de la territorialidad matona del que cree que está en la verdad porque tiene el poder, o pretende tener el poder por estar en la verdad. El otro día le comentaba a algunos amigos, a propósito de la novela de Emmanuel Carrére El adversario, que yo siempre he preferido la “lucidez dolorosa” a la“ilusión consoladora,” pero que lo más difícil es tener que entender que a veces no puede haber lucidez, porque faltan datos y no se entiende de ninguna forma qué pasa—uno vive suspenso en la lucidez imposible, queriéndola, pero no alcanzándola. Nunca supe ni sabré de dónde tanto odio.  Pero ya va dejando de importarme.

Porque ya me declaré fuera de su alcance. Me parece también algo apresurado de tu parte concluir que “en estos asuntos,” como dices, no haya “víctimas y victimarios.” Yo pienso que sí. Es más, pienso que cuando alguien da testimonio de que es así, de que, por ejemplo, ha sido atacado con injusticia y crueldad, la respuesta adecuada no puede ser la suspensión del juicio, puesto que el que testimonia cuenta su verdad (puedes acusarlo de mentir, pero no cabe decirle que no sabes a qué atenerte, eso es duro de tragar: o miento o digo la verdad, créeme.) Y claro, tampoco el aburrimiento cabe, como respuesta al narrador, si la narración está bien narrada, si la narración cuenta una historia real, por más que íntima u obscena. Contarla era el precio del abandono de la desdicha, para poder entrar en relación ya libre con esa “herida sin sutura” que uno tampoco quiere olvidar ni deja cicatrizar, para no engañarse con ello ya nunca más. Contarla no es un capricho, porque vivirla no lo fue tampoco.

El que realmente está aburrido de todo ello soy yo–tuve que publicar ese libro para sacarme de encima esa historia a través del pequeño fragmento de ella que cuento, y para permitirme ya no volver al tema nunca más, como el mismo libro dice un par de veces, por si una no bastaba. Pero el libro abre otras perspectivas. Yo estoy haciendo ahora mi mejor trabajo, y mis amigos están haciendo todavía mejor trabajo que yo–por primera vez en 30 años puedo decir con certeza que el futuro del pensamiento en español, en la medida en que dependa de nosotros, existe: hay un futuro, y es mejor que cualquier pasado. Otros pueden acercarse a todo ello. Que esto haga que al personal podrido en el ambiente que tú mencionas se lo lleven los demonios es algo que me trae absolutamente sin cuidado. Como ellos saben, nunca los quise, y no merecen mucho más que eso. Ni menos. A paseo. Nosotros tenemos mucho que hacer. Y poco que perder.

Así que lo que tú llamas “funcionalidad averiada” no está realmente averiada, ya no, ya funciona otra vez, aunque lo estuvo, lo fue, durante años. Ya no. Y no se lo debo precisamente a ningún campo profesional ni a ningún latinoamericanismo—a esos no les debo nada, y así prefiero que continuen las cosas, porque, en realidad, no sabría deberles, me parecería muy mal, muy antipático de mi parte, y faltaba más.

Lo que realmente agradezco de tu carta es esa petición de lectura, que me honra, si realmente crees que mi libro es suficiente para albergarla; si mi libro alcanza a poder hacerse cargo de una petición de lectura. Eso es todo lo que quise al escribirlo, o mejor: al organizarlo, pues los textos que lo componen fueron escritos sin idea inicial de libro. Y es, yo pienso, esa petición de lectura la que descoloca toda posibilidad de adjudicarle al libro “yoidad” alguna—al margen de esos latinoamericanistas del yo que han dejado de interesarme para siempre, ninguna escritura del yo me interesa tampoco, entendiendo que no hay apenas relación entre una escritura del yo y una escritura en primera persona—no sé si eso se entiende así, de pronto, pero traté de explicarlo en el libro, y en todo caso remite a la diferencia entre aquellos que escriben para probar algo y aquellos que escriben porque no tienen más remedio que hacerlo. Yo, lamentablemente, estoy, cuando estoy, entre estos últimos. Así me va. Nunca he conseguido probar nada. La infrapolítica acoge desde luego la escritura en primera persona, no tolera ninguna otra, y no es sin embargo en ningún caso ejercicio de escritura yoica.

Y sí, la voluntad de metaforización es siempre sospechosa, eminentemente lo es—la metáfora miente siempre. En los textos (difíciles) de Pascal Quignard tenemos la prueba más concreta, en ese odio intempestivo al logos que traiciona toda la tradición literaria, en ese odio a la lengua que vende una lengua ya siempre vendida al mejor postor. La metáfora es un engaño inaudito en el que toda lucidez no puede más que suspenderse en ilusión consoladora. De ahí la demanda incondicional de una lengua no metafórica y por lo tanto imposible. Pero esa es la demanda infrapolítica, que también es demanda poética.

Sé que no contesto a todo lo que me dices, pero así tendremos ocasión de seguir hablando.

Otra vez mi gratitud, Juan Carlos, sincera. Nunca espero que esa petición de lectura sea recibida. Las ascuas no se apagan.

Abrazos, Alberto