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

Bennington

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

A partir de Marranismo e inscripción…, de Alberto Moreiras, Madrid: Escolar y Mayo, 2016. Por Juan Carlos Quintero Herencia.

I

La toma del tiempo

“¿Te gustó el libro, te parece que funciona?” me preguntas. Cuando contesto que sí, que me gustó, siento que la afirmativa es, de inmediato, la tachadura de toda la incomodidad e intensidad asociadas a los libros que he disfrutado. Y éste, como otros que me han gustado, me tomó tiempo. Los que me gustan, me toman tiempo, necesito acompañarlos —por razones que no sé ni quiero explicar— con otras lecturas, con otros textos. Por eso me tardo. Hace tiempo, mucho antes que se pusiera de moda la lentitud académica o universitaria, que abracé las consecuencias y la singularidad de mi “tardarme”. No hay nada que hacer. Además, evité leer las reseñas hasta haber terminado de leer el libro. No quiero que me dañen la película, ni me predispongan, ni me lo cuenten en ninguna dirección.

Ya que se trata de un libro eminentemente autográfico, me gustaría acompañar tu gesto en Marranismo e inscripción con las condiciones, algo del contexto desde donde te vengo leyendo hace un tiempo. Consignar aquí todo el ruido que tengo que poner al lado para poder leer(te).

No creo que nos hayamos dado las manos. No recuerdo un estrechón de manos. Es probable que hayamos coincidido en los pasillos de alguna conferencia profesional y recuerdo algunas fotos colgadas en un panel en el último LASA en Washington, DC. Tu nombre fue primero una cita, una referencia, un pasaje —de hecho recuerdo el uso de The Exhaustion of Difference (2001) en el libro de Juan Duchesne Winter, Fugas incomunistas (2005)— luego devendría parte de esa suerte de epicentro polémico, de chismes e incesantes rumoreos académicos. Esta última situación, de hecho, se convirtió en un escena que precisamente estorbaba o neutralizaba cualquier lectura o comentario mío sobre tus textos. Cuando en medio de alguna conversación con amigos —intelectuales, escritores o universitarios— mencionaba alguno de tus textos, en demasiadas ocasiones, se instalaban rostros, “peros” y muecas. La plantilla de adjetivos, juicios (morales), calificativos o descalificaciones que de inmediato procedían, tenían el efecto (en mi) de abrir ese estúpido “disclaimer” que no me interesaba mediar, que quién carajos va a saber lo que sucedió, que no sé lo que en verdad allí pasó, ni me interesaba, etc., etc. Este gesto mío tampoco ayudaba a mantener la continuidad de la conversación, pues pocos o casi ninguno parecían haberte leído o querían hacerlo. Para muchos, a pesar o quizás debido a su filiación o endeudamiento disciplinario, decir cosas como “ese tipo es un_____________” o “esa tipa es una _____________” es parte de una carga y descarga afectiva y moral que acompaña y firma su labor crítica, aunque dejen esto para el cotilleo y el aparte entre panas. Quería y quiero hablar de otras cosas que no pasan por ahí. ¿De qué estamos hablando, de los textos, de la labor de pensamiento que allí se despliega o de la “estatura moral de las personas envueltas”, de cuán humildes, simpáticos o arrogantes son? No creo que en estos asuntos existan víctimas y victimarios absolutos, impolutos. Ni me importa. En fin.

Creo que el “affaire en Z” o el ground zero que estalló con el “subalternismo” y “post-subalternismo” tiene los visos de un concurso de popularidad, de torneo político-institucional ante los administradores y ganaron los más astutos, los mercadeables, quizás “los más agradables”, los instrumentalizables, los que hablan o hablaron un mejor “Decanish” (la lengua del decanato). Me consta haber sentido y escuchado la “sospecha”, el pasarle la cuenta, el goce ante el —entonces— extraño “latinoamericanista”, al “antipático” español que para colmo no visitaba los santos lugares de la diferencia o la identidad “latinoamericanista”. Nada de lo que aparece entre comillas ni lo afirmo, ni me interesa desmentirlo, porque nada de esto, repito, me consta, ni me parece relevante, ni mucho menos ando por ahí buscando versiones o contra-versiones. De la misma manera, ya se pasea con nuevas vestiduras la “sospecha” y la paranoia ante el deseo infrapolítico por hablar de la esquemática histórica heiddegeriana de cara a América Latina.

Siempre he dicho que me parecen mucho más retadores e estimulantes los lugares de tu enunciación y algunos de tus textos que cualquiera de los textos de tus “enemigos”, adversarios o sus epígonos. Incluso los disfruto más aunque difiera de ellos o cuando todavía no los “entiendo” del todo. Para mi esta es la marca de un texto que “funciona”. By the way, la discursividad decolonial se me cae de las manos porque telegrafía, le sirve la mesa a la simplificación y reduce la diferencia o la complejidad desde la salida. Todo termina cayendo en su sitio y desde la salida se sabe cómo y qué se va a “concluir”.

Creo que mi distancia y desconocimiento íntimo asociados a los días convulsos en “Z” me ha permitido escapar tanto de la moralina institucional, del torneo citacional sectario, de la verbosidad teórica, como del fisiculturismo discursivo o del craso anti-intelectualismo que nuclea, en ocasiones, el bochinche sobre lo que pasó en “Z” y sus consecuencias. Con lo anterior ni niego, ni dudo de los dolores y sufrimientos realmente vividos durante esos años, como subestimo la “realidad” de movidas y maquinaciones que pueden “testimoniar” o negar cualquiera de sus participantes o testigos. En verdad, Alberto, me aburre el tema. Igual me siento como quien se asoma a una escena obscenamente íntima y no tiene manera de salir de allí. Esto en particular ni lo celebro, ni lo agradezco, lo doy por recibido. Sobre el sujeto que escribe Marranismo e inscripción este relato sobre “Z” parece una herida sin sutura. Espero, sin embargo, que esto sea lo menos discutido, leído o comentado de Marranisno e inscripción. O que por curiosidad malsana permita que otros lectores se acerquen al libro. Si se va a convertir en otra re-edición del dime-y-direte entre los que son y los que no son (algo), paso. Las reseñas que he leído ya enfatizan lo que me parece importante del libro.

Creo que la mejor funcionalidad de este libro, es esa funcionalidad averiada que tan productiva y dialogante me parece y que firma lo que me atrevería a subrayar como una singularidad de lo literario y, borgianamente, de lo teórico. Algunos de los aspectos me parecen contribuciones del libro son: 1) la inscripción decisiva del daño y regocijo anti-teórico que plaga la academia contemporánea. Necesitamos asediar la hegemonía de la pulsión anti-intelectual, anti-teórica que regentea la universidad tal y como la conocemos hoy. Fue toda una sorpresa, más que estimulante, leer en las páginas dedicadas al episodio en “Z” el espejeo de un momento efervescente en el campo intelectual puertorriqueño del pasado fin de siglo. Me refiero a las discusiones y debates, además de las histerizaciones de algunos ante el denostado corpus “post-moderno” en el Puerto Rico universitario de finales de los 1990’s y comienzo de los 2000’s, 2) la puesta en discusión de las posibilidades e imposibilidades críticas de la “infrapolítica como una crítica del giro político” (33) y 3) el abandono de la secundariedad intelectual, del enmarcado cientista de la labor crítica, en tanto ficción crítica o ficción teórica. La voluntad escritural, literaria del libro lo coloca serenamente, si se me permite, entre “nuestros extraños libros” latinoamericanos. Nada de esto merece meramente aplausos, sino discusión y deliberación amplios.

II

Asociaciones libres y preguntas. Asocio y pregunto recordando las palabras de mi madrina santera quien me decía, cuando veía venir una pregunta sobre el secreto: lo que se sabe no se pregunta. También porque aquí, tal vez, expongo, no sé, algunas de mis resistencias o confusiones ante MI. Uso MI autorizado por el gesto indigerible, indigesto con el que Brett Levinson presentaba la performance de tu pensamiento en Marranismo e interpretación: “Marranismo e inscripción, henceforth MI, is both a performance and explanation of its own undigestibility, which is to say, the undigestibility of Moreiras within Hispanism as well as within, let us call them, the theoretical humanities.” Recordé que MI es también la abreviatura utilizada por los productores de la película-franquicia de acción y espionaje Mission Impossible protagonizada por Tom Cruise. Y más que cualquier extrapolación efectista o el relleno del vacío que desaloja lo imposible con la proeza visual, me gustaría seguir pensando el carácter imposible de tu crítica al “latinoamericanismo del yo” y el “llamado de una lengua no metafórica”.

En tu lectura del “latinoamericanismo del yo”, éste parece ser consecuencia de una movida cartográfica, de haber padecido una “cartografía” donde se te convirtió en personaje capturado por dicho mapa. Más o mejor que una concepción cartográfica del “yo” ¿podríamos repensar lo “yoico” desde otras coordenadas? Que al igual que la resistencia a la experiencia psicoanalítica se manifiesta con ese “psicoanalizarse es lo que siempre necesita el otro”, también pudieramos evitar la trampa de que “más yoico eres tú” y responsabilizarnos por ese estar implicados hasta el tuétano en la opción de la primera persona. Creo que MI expone un “yo”, tal vez indigesto pero también en vías de fuga, abandonándose a otros placeres y por lo mismo, ojalá, camino a otra interlocución. Ahora bien, más o menos que el diseño o una captura cartográfica lo “yoico” me parece un privilegiar, un totalizar la presencia y el actuar del “yo”, volverlo escenario y protagonista indispensable de la labor crítica, la reducción de lo personal o de lo íntimo a la primera persona. ¿El “no hay un nosotros” que exhibe la infrapolítica sería una marca de su carácter post-yoico, infrayoico, su posibilidad imposible?

III

La espalda de lo imposible-lo posible del pensar (:) Deconstruir, desmetaforizar, desnarrativizar ¿des-equivalenciar? “Despertar en el pensamiento”

“No sabemos lo que podría ser una vida sin metáforas, pero sabemos o podemos intuir lo que la metáfora traiciona. Marranismo e inscripción (135)

Me consta, por varias instancias, lecturas e intercambios por Facebook, tu deseo reflexivo por continuar o asumir la tarea de-constructiva derrideana como un despertar del sueño sonámbulo del metafísico —a diferencia del, pero relacionado con el sonámbulo poético (sobre el cual dices poco)— pues el sonámbulo metafísico es quien sueña “sin romper el carácter metafórico de la lengua” o citando a Derrida  despertar como la escucha de la «llamada de una lengua no metafórica imposible» (278).” Es casi seguro que aquí y ahora pulse mi condición crónica, poética, o mi inhabilidad para elucidar, o habitar la lucidez del sujeto de la luz (si se me perdona la redundancia) que ha despertado. Romper la metáfora es producir otra metáfora o al menos suspenderla por un instante. ¿Qué haría posible políticamente esta lengua-no-metafórica-imposible? ¿Con qué tipo de oído escuchas ese “llamado”? ¿O escuchas tal vez el llamado desde una viscosidad literalizante en la que creerías como escritor, como marrano y que nunca deviene discurso en tanto expondría tu secreto? ¿Por qué no lidiar, des-obrar con ese tacto, con el pálpito con “lo real” que también recorre lo meta-phorein como escape de lo dicotómico, como transferencia a otro o cualquier lugar?

Si la metáfora “traiciona”, falta o delinque, sino es leal, ¿cuál es el problema de este “sueño”, cuál es la naturaleza de su deslealtad y qué o quién decide su “politicidad? A veces me parece —puedo, sin duda, equivocarme colosalmente— que si “desmetaforizar es deconstruir” bajo el signo de lo imposible, este des-obrar el trabajo de la metáfora tal vez arrastre una noción muy específica, quizás muy parcial o limitada de lo metafórico que todavía transporta un binario y sólo percibe y reconoce espasmódicamente la potencialidad múltiple, abierta de lo metafórico. ¿La infrapolítica “sospecha” de toda voluntad, más bien de la inevitabilidad-potencialidad metafórica? ¿Insiste alguna voluntad equivalencial, alguna ideologización en el trabajo de la metáfora?

Espero que estas notas (menores) te hayan sacado de las “ascuas”, de allí donde mis salidas o silencios en el pasado te habían colocado.

Gracias por el libro y en cuanto me lleguen ejemplares de La hoja de mar te paso uno firmado. Un abrazo.

Juan Carlos Quintero Herencia

20 de marzo de 2017, Silver Spring, Maryland

Ius imperii: on Roberto Esposito’s The Origin of the Political: Hannah Arendt or Simone Weil? By Gerardo Muñoz.

Vicenzo Binetti and Gareth Williams’ translation of Roberto Esposito’s The Origin of the Political: Hannah Arendt or Simone Weil? (Fordham U Press, 2017) fills an important gap in the Italian thinker’s philosophical trajectory, connecting the early works on the impolitical (Categorie dell’impolitico, Nove pensieri) to the latest elaborations on negative community and the impersonal (Terza persona, Due, Da Fuori). Origins is also an important meditation on the problem of thought, and Esposito admits that had he written this work today, he would have dwelled more on this question central to his own philosophical project up to Da Fouri and the turn to “Italian Thought” (pensiero vivente). Nevertheless, The Origin of the Political is a unique contribution that crowns a systematic effort in mapping the rare misencounter and esoteric exchange between two great Jewish thinkers of the twentieth century: Hannah Arendt and Simone Weil.

In a sequence of thirteen sections, Esposito dwells on the question of the origin of the political in light of western decline into nihilism, empire, and modern totalitarianism. He is not interested in writing a comparative essay, and this book could not be further from that end. Rather, Arendt and Weil are situated face to face in what Esposito calls a “reciprocal complication”, in which two bodies of work can illuminate, complement, and swerve from instances of the said and unsaid (Esposito 2). Albeit their dissimilar intellectual physiognomies and genealogical tracks, which Esposito puts to rest at times, the underlying question at stake is laid out clearly at the beginning. Mainly, the question about the arcanum or principle of the political:

“Does totalitarianism have a tradition, or is it born of destruction? How deep are its roots? Does it go back two decades, two centuries, or two millennia? And ultimately: is it internal or external to the sphere of politics and power? Is it born from lack or from excess? It is on this threshold that the two response, in quite clear-cut fashion diverge.” (Esposito 4).

Whereas for Arendt the causes and even the texture of the political is extraneous from the totalitarian experience that took place in the war theaters of the central Europe, Weil’s response solicits a frontal interrogation of the ruinous catering of the political, going back at least to the Roman Empire. But Esposito does not want to exploit differences between the Weil and Arendt too soon. In the first sections of Origins he brings them to common grounds. First, Esposito notes how important Homer’s Iliad was to both Arendt and Weil in terms of the question of “origins”. In fact, the Iliad does not only represent a ‘before of history’, a poem that cannot be reduced to the narrative of the event; it is also an artifact that allows for truth. Esposito writes: “It is precisely the defense of truth through the name of Homer that most intimately binds our authors” (Esposito 8). Whereas totalitarianism emerges once politics is only a legislative instrument for seeking ends, truth for the an-archic Homeric poem praises both accounts; that of the victor and the defeated. Thus, any an-archic (beyond or before origin or command) is always, necessarily, a history of the defeated, which remains a demand in the order of memory. This is what Arendt’s admires and defends in “Truth and Politics” regarding the Homerian telling of both Hector and Achilles. But it’s also what Weil in her pre-Christian intuitions accepts as the survival of the Greek beginning in the commencement of Christianity without mimesis. To recollect truth in history beyond arcana (origins and commanding force) is to take distance from the force of philosophy of history, and its salvific messianic reversals. This is far from the negation of history; it is the radicalization and the durability of the historical, which Esposito frames with a cue from Broch:

“How can something conceived in terms of a caesura lay the foundations for something enduring? How can one derive the fullness of Grund from the emptiness of Abgrund? How to stabilize and institute freedom when it is born literally from the “abyss of nothingness” This is the question that returns with increasing intensity in Arendt’s essay on revolution…However, revolution cannot be an inaugural caesura and constitutio libertatis simultaneously” (Esposito 17-18).

This explains, perhaps only implicitly (Esposito does not say so openly), Arendt’s convicted defense of the American Founders over the Jacobinism of the French Revolution, which has only been an achievement in history due to the enduring progressive force of living constitutionalism. Esposito does not take up the fact that, Weil also responded critically to the Jacobin rule in her influential “Note sur la suppression générale des partis politiques” (1940). Esposito does claim, however, that any historical an-archy, insofar as it remains incomplete and evolving, must not resolve itself in genesis or redemptive messianism of the “now-time” [1]. This clearing allows for a passage through the origin that brings to bear the proximity of war to politics, which for Arendt delimits the antinomy of polemos and polis, as well as the difference between power and violence elaborated in her book On Violence.

Esposito lays down three different levels of Arendt’s positing of the origin of the political: a first one predicated on the space of the polis for the action of the citizen (polis becoming a theater); a second one, in which the agon is manifested without death; and a third, a Romanization of the Greek physis into auctoritas. For Arendt, Rome becomes a sort of retroactive payment for what was lost and destroyed. It is an after Troy in order to experience “beginning as (re)commencement” (Esposito 31). Rome is the possibility of another polis after the incineration, a tropology for amnesty within the historical development of stasis or social strife. Once again, the hermeneutics of memory over forgetting is placed above a philosophy of history that absolutizes the valence of the political. But it is in this conjuncture where Weil’s thought announces itself as an interruptive force in Arendt’s ontological conversation of the polis.

Esposito immediately tells us that for Weil the “origin” of the political does not run astray due to accumulation of historical catastrophe. According to Weil, the Fall is already original in the sense of being grounded in the event of creation (Esposito 36). Here Weil’s neoplatonic Christianity carries the weight. Weil posits an understanding of contradiction in Christian Trinitarian thought, although unlike the Carl Schmitt of Roman Catholicism and Political Form (1923), she does not substantialize this split through the reciprocity of its division into decision in the name of legitimate order. Weil, as it is well known, affirms a moment of creation grounded in its own abnegation. This revolves in the concept of de-creation that Esposito defines as: “a presence that proposes itself in the modality of absence, as a yes to the other expressed by the negation of self in an act fully coincident with its own renunciation” (Esposito 39). Conceptually consistent with Eckhart’s kenosis and later in modernity with Schelling’s philosophy of revelation, decreation is the Weil’s stamp of unoriginary foundation.

At stake here is the question of impersonal life, which in different ways, Italian thinkers as diverse as Giorgio Agamben, Elettra Stimilli, Davide Tarizzo, or Roberto Esposito himself have articulated in multiple ways in a debate that has come to us under the label of biopolitics. To the extent that decreation is an an-archy of this neoplatonic theology, Weil remains a thinker of the non-subject or of the trace of the finite that is irreducible to any modality of the political [2]. At this point, Esposito exposes the problem of force. Without fully embarking on a phenomenology of the concept in Weil’s reading of the Iliad, Esposito notes that force has the character of a total encompassing sensation that strips life unto death, belonging to no one, and viciously bypassing all limits. Here Weil cuts away from Arendt’s agonistic impulse of the polis.

The maximum distance with Arendt also emerges at this point: whereas Arendt conceived the Iliad of glory and claritas, for Weil it is “a nocturnal canto of mortality, finitude, and human misery” (Esposito 52). The uncontained force, the true and central protagonist of Homer’s epic, unfolds a negative community that Esposito calls, after Jan Patočka, a community “of the front”. Although Weil’s utmost divergence from Arendt becomes effective in the question of Roman politicity, which for her amounts to a juridical idolatry and a theologico-political glorification, as well as a prelude for the modern totalitarian experiment. In a key moment of this treatment of Weil’s critique of Roman law, Esposito writes:

“But what is even more significant for Weil’s arguments, and this is in contrast to Arendt, is that Roman law – ius, whose intrinsic nexus with iubeo drags the entire semantic frame of iustitia far from the terrain of the Greek dikē – is annexed to the violent sphere of domination. While the latter alludes to the sovereign measure that subsides parts according to their just proportion, the Roman iustum always belongs to he ho stands higher in respect to others who for this very reason are judged to be inferior, or, in the literal sense of the expression, “looked down upon”. This is the principle of a “seeing” that in the roman action of war is always bound to “vanquishing”…” (Esposito 56).

For Weil, Rome was representative of imperium and ius that subordinated the transcendence of its uncontested rule above citizenship equality, such as it existed in the Greek polis through isonomia. Devoid of citizenship, the Roman ius imperii is necessarily a dependent on slavery. Esposito notes that Weil’s anti-roman sense is more consistent with Heidegger’s critique of the falsum of the Roman pax as well as with Elias Canneti’s understanding of roman perpetual war, than with the Romantic anti-roman verdict. In its decadence, Roman politics as based on fallare opens up Christian pastoral power in a long continuum that later reproduces the basis for supreme hegemony. At the same time, Rome never truly stands for war, since it negates by declining conflictivity to peace in the name of domination. That is why for Weil the greatest discovery of the Greeks was to abide by strife as the mother of all things, while realizing its destructive nature. This makes Weil, as Esposito is aware, a figure of ignition, and a “combative thinker”. There is a sense in which the imagination of warring also colors Weil’s reading of Love in Plato’s Symposium, which positively informs her deconstruction of Roman ius.

But is this enough to leave imperial legislative domination? Should one accept Love as contained in war, as a form of warring and as a sword? (Esposito 72). The question that emerges at the very end of the Origins is whether Love can be at the center of a elaboration of a third dimension of the political, traversing both Weil and Arendt’s thought, and establishing perhaps a new principle for politics. It is to this end that Esposito argues: “…justice – love and thought, the thought of love – requires that what appears to others be sacrificed to what is, even if it remains obscured, misunderstood, or despaired (and this is precisely what Weil’s hero also proposes)” (Esposito 77).

Esposito writes just a few pages before that perhaps only Antigone succeeded in facing this differend, but only at the highest possible cost of destruction. It is at this crossroads where we find the last attempt to reconnect Weil and Arendt. However, love (eros) stops short of being a legislative antinomy and premise for a politics of non-domination beyond sacrifice or the payment with one’s own life. One should recall that Arendt’s doctoral work on Saint Augustine and love sheds light on Weil’s pursuit of love in facticity of war [3]. And if love always retains a sacrificial and Christological trace, then it entails that at any moment the condition of eros could dispense towards the very falsum that it seeks to undue. Could there be a politics predicated on love as an origin, capable of obstructing imperial renewal?

This is the question that Esposito’s book elicits, but that it also leaves unanswered. While it is surprising that the question of ‘the friend’ goes without mention in The Origins of the Political – the last twist in the book is on the figure of the hero or the antihero – it begs to ask to what extent friendship, not love, becomes the “deviation of the political” into an post-hegemonic region irreducible to the negation of war? This region is not possible to subsume in the impersonal reversal of the lover, the enemy or the neighbor. Perhaps the “He” that Esposito analyzes in Kafka at the very end of the book cannot be properly placed as an amorous figure, since the friend always arrives, quite unexpectedly, at the game of life. We abide to this intimate encounter beyond ethical and the political maximization. Moreover, we care for him, even when we do not love him. It is the friend, in fact, a figure that finds itself in a hospitable region, in a city like Venice so admired by Weil, where “he can rest when he is exhausted” (Esposito 78). This is a region no longer ruled by imperial politics, nor by its exacerbated modern perpetuity.

 

 

 

Notes

  1. The target here is messianism as represented mainly by Walter Benjamin and other representatives of salvific philosophies. Esposito notes that Hannah Arendt was critical of Walter Benjamin’s messianism in her “Gnoseological Foreword” of Benjamin’s Origin of German Tragic Drama. For a devastating critique of messianism and philosophy of history as a dual machine of political theologies, see Jaime Rodriguez Matos’ Writing of the Formless: José Lezama Lima and the End of Time (Fordham U Press, 2016).
  2. For the non-subject, see Alberto Moreiras’ contribution to the debate of the political in his Línea de sombra: el no-sujeto de lo político (Palinodia, 2006).
  3. Giorgio Agamben makes the claim that love in Heidegger, as informed by Arendt’s early work on St. Augustine, stands for facticity. See his “The Passion of Facticity”, in Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy (Stanford U Press, 1999). 185-205.

Sephardics Readings List: An Intersection between latinx/hispanic/jewish studies

a. Western intellectual and cultural history since 1600. This examination includes basic
issues in the philosophy of religion, theory and method in the study of religion, and
contemporary critical theory. The purpose of the exam is to situate the field of Religion and Culture in its historical and intellectual context.

This list is designed to include canonical works in the broader field of Religious Studies as it relates to my topic such as Machiavelli’s The Prince, Cervante’s Don Quixote, Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise; and also to include non-canonical primary sources wich are nevertheless important to the development of the ‘West,’ works like the diary of Ursula de Jesus and the proto-novel Lazarillo de Tormes as well as the broader picaresque literary genre that so subtly influenced posthegemonic rebellion of an internal (–marrano–) kind. The representatives of the canon as well as those chosen to represent a noncanonical kind of canon are designed both to challenge the supremacy of canon as a concept and to point to the role of Spanish imperial culture as being an important, if not fundamental, element in even conceiving a phrase such as ‘Wesern intellectual and cultural history since 1600″. Spanish history, particularly as it pertains to the whirlwinds of posthegemonic stirs, desires, and manifestations along the margins of the Empire, involves an incredible transformation on the world stage. I will follow Professor DeGuzman’s observations and posit that the West as such positions itself historically as being other than Spanish, that modernity is other than Spanish, that freedom (as in the case of the ‘Free Cities’ that developed in the early modern period, such as Sale, or even Amsterdam or London, ports that were in the new zones of global trade outside of Spanish Imperial hegemony) was increasingly defined in reaction/accommodation to the professed Spanish imperial ideal. Professor Cassen’s Italian Spy is indicative of yet another possible ‘posthegemonic’ reaction to the Imperial claim on religious conformity–as are characters like Samuel Palache, Abraham Miguel Cardozo, Baruch Spinoza, and many others.  I plan to have an eye on these macro historico-cultural turns that were taking place in different places within the matrix of the Spanish/Portuguese Imperial zone but also on marranism’s (destabilizing, reinvigorating) force and influence on what we now call ‘Western’ thought.

b. Area of specialization. This examination focuses on major scholarly literature specific to the student’s specific field of study.

This list is focused on the historiography of the converso/new christian/marrano narrative, with a nod at the different streams of understanding the converso phenomenon both within and without the Iberian peninsula. This is an exploration of the development of a new Sephardic community that would come to understand itself in many different ways in different locations, but, and particularly in seventeenth-century Amsterdam and throughout the Atlantic zones, began to articulate a sense of nationhood that included fellow kinsmen then living or having lived in Spanish lands (‘the lands of idolatry’) as Catholics, even for generations. This trajectory will follow the work of Bodian, Yovel, Perez, Netanyahu, Nirenberg, Jonathan Israel, and many others.

c. Cultural theory. This examination focuses on methodological and theoretical issues in an area of cultural theory relevant to the student’s scholarly work, such as literary theory, cultural studies, ethnographic theory, postcolonial studies, or gender theory.

This list is designed as a ‘Jewish Studies’ list, but with an emphasis on the history of the ‘heretical.’ I follow Gershom Sholem and more recent scholars like David Halperin and Benjamin Lazier and try to show that heresy is an integral–if not fundamental–to the movement of (Jewish) history.  I also highlight different ways that the Inquisition was instrumental in creating precisely what it feared most. We can see this in Wachtel’s recent Marrano Labyrinths in which he details conversations had between Inquisitorial prisoners (who were recorded by fellow inmate spies) where we witness a ‘return’ to Judaism as a result of a life lived at the at times ruthless mercy of Inquisitorial bureaucracy. At the same time, following scholars like Rawlings or Kamen, the Spanish Inquisition was a modernizing institution and became a model for non-Spanish elites to not only reject the “inquisition” at a rhetorical level (as an illiberal and primitive institution to be abhorred) but also adopt its innovations and efficiencies, its claim on biopolitics, the right to a trial, access to international databases, adherences to procedure, global institutional cooperation, and, to remain topical, an early apparatus of the modern deep state.

d. Dissertation examination. This exam covers historical and critical literature specific to the student’s area of dissertation research.

This list is a focus on the cultural and political phenomena of ‘Philosephardism’ which I explore as part of a Spanish postcolonial nostalgia that became marginally widespread after the territorial losses of 1898 that marked the end of Spanish colonialism in the ‘New World.’ At the same time, philosephardism was concurrent with growing nationalisms that took on many forms, among them a kind of re-colonialism that would invert certain traditional (crusader) norms by claiming loyal ‘Moors’ and Spanish Jews and enlisting them in a new project of ‘hispanidad’ that supposedly could usher in a new and better era. Broader European notions of progress inflected these ideas and they played out in Spanish (re)colonial thinking in various and particular ways. This included King Alfonso XIII’s love affair with chemical weapons which he used unabashedly in the Rift Wars, setting the stage for the first mass aerial bombardments of civilian populations in Europe during the colonial-reconquest of peninsular Spain from the supposed dangers of Communism during the Spanish Civil War. The proto-fascist Spanish right revitalized and reinvigorated the narrative of 1492, reconquest, los reyes catolicos, etc; but interestingly the ideology differed both with more traditional conservatism and its counterparts of in the modern right in northern Europe. ‘Southern’ proto-fascism made room for thinking about an orientalism that allowed for Jews to re-enter the bodypolitic of Spanish nationhood on the one hand, while on the other both rejecting and internalizing the ‘Moor’ as the noble, potentially civilized, but still tainted savage other. Sebastian Balfour’s Deadly Embrace is crucial for talking about these so-called African wars, while Isabel Rohr’s Philosephardism and the Spanish Right, and Stanley Pain’s several biographies and histories of Franco and the run-up to the Spanish Civil War are necessary historiographies as well. The writings, works, thoughts and lives of individuals central to disseminating philosephardism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are necessary, people like Angel Pulido and Ernesto Gimenez; and then represented should be examples of philosephardism in the contemporary literary world–like Munoz’ Sefarad or Eran Torbiner’s recent documentary Madrid before Hanifa; as well a brief rumination on Spain’s current philospehardic law to extend citizenship to exiles of 1492.

“Archives, Voids, Nihilism. State and University.” Talk given as part of the working group “University and State,” a UCI Humanities Commons Research Cluster. University of California, Irvine. March 10, 2017. (By Jaime Rodríguez Matos)

Jaime Rodríguez Matos (CSU, Fresno)

 

Lo que el Caribe, sin duda, no es insiste en ser idealizado o comprobado como realidad mítica por variados custodios disciplinarios del archivo. (Quintero Herencia 112)

 

I

In the 1983 lecture, “The Principle of Reason,” Jacques Derrida points out a question that Heidegger asked himself about the university and its modern architectonics grounded as it is on the axiom that nothing is without a reason.  We read in Derrida’s text, which is paraphrasing and quoting Heidegger’s 1955-56 seminar Der Satz vom Grund:

if today’s university, locus of modern science, ‘is grounded on the principle of grounding,’ nowhere do we encounter within it the principle of reason itself; nowhere is this principle thought, scrutinized, interrogated as to its origins.  Nowhere, within the university as such, is anyone wondering from where that call of reason is voiced, nowhere is anyone inquiring into the origin of that demand for grounds, for reason that is to be provided, rendered, delivered ….  And this dissimulation of its origin within what remains unthought is not harmful, quite the contrary, to the development of the modern university. (Derrida 140).

The reason for reason is that which even American pragmatists allow themselves without further interrogation.  Derrida cites Charles Sanders Pierce: “One cannot well demand a reason for reasonableness itself” (138).  Furthermore, those inclined to pose the question of the (absent) foundation are accused of obscurantism and, above all, nihilism (138).  This accusation of nihilism follows a certain pattern.  Considering the abyss, it is said, goes hand in hand with a disenchantment that corrodes the highest values; it undermines the very nature of what we understand by the word institutions.  Pointing to this groundlessness entails a thinking, a mode of thinking that is not reason, for which, as Derrida puts it, “It is not certain that [it] can bring together a community or found an institution in the traditional sense of these words.  It must rethink what is meant by community and institution” (148).  And this rethinking is something to which the university tends to react in ways that are not always rational, one might even say that it reacts, or some of its representatives react, in violent ways against this rethinking.  Ways that entail foregoing even the most basic protocols of reasonable critique—like reading the texts that one is glossing or contesting.  Though not always, even radical forms of critique like Marxism and Psychoanalysis have an easier time in this regard.  And the claims of something like a “decolonial reason” or those of knowledges that differ from the scientific model are not different in this context.  For what is at issue is the continued valuation of epistemology and the continuity in maintaining the epistemo-centric “fundamental axiomatics and deontology of the institution” (149).  This is also a form of nihilism, but one that is put into action in the name of values that stand in stark opposition to the actions that defend them.  The professor that allows him or herself a visceral anti-rationalist reaction to safeguard the rationality and reasonableness of the university—this is not an uncommon paradox.

Thus, in 1983, Derrida is speaking with full knowledge of the resistance to the question of being within the institution of the university.  When the abyss on which that institution stands is interrogated, everyone involved seems to tremble.  This is not a question of the textuality of the university, of its appearance and disappearance within a chain of signifiers; it is a question that concerns the relation of the university to another thing, the marks of which have no need of language.  The question is that of the university’s very existence and the existence of the people that live (in) it.  And it is a question that cuts equally deep whether you are on the side of those who think that the university is the site of disinterested knowledge-for-knowledge’s-sake or on the side of those who see it as a technical training facility with the mission of producing profitable end results.

Perhaps because of this resistance, Derrida’s gesture seems, to my eyes at least, timid or overly cautious.  He insists that there must be a double gesture.  On the one hand, we must ensure professional competence, while, on the other, we must go as far as we can in thinking the abyss itself: “‘Thinking’ requires both the principle of reason and what is beyond the principle of reason, the arche and an-archy” (153).  He adds:

Between the two, the difference of breath or an accent, only the enactment of this “thinking” can decide.  That decision is always risky; it always risks the worst.  To claim to eliminate this risk through an institutional program is quite simply to erect a barricade against a future.  The decision of thinking cannot be an intra-institutional event, an academic moment. (153)

Why do I find this overly timid or cautious?  For one, because it is a petitio, and, in this case, there should not be any question begging.  If we didn’t know this in 1983, I think we know it today: those willing to forego the professionalism that should characterizes the university when it comes putting the lable of “nihilists” on those who opt for thinking through the institutions’ fundamental fantasy are not going to change course for the very simple reason that as an institution the university is not interested in taking risks, certainly not today.  On a different front, it is perhaps high time that we begin to face up to the barricade that professionalism erects against the future of any thinking whatsoever.  Today, as in 1983, the accusation of professionalism and antiprofessionalism can be leveled jointly without anyone batting an eye.  “You are too theoretical and your language is too technical, while your exposition and performance of the archive is too undisciplined.”  However, at the heart of this circumstance what lies is the ever-clearer realization that we now live a situation in which, as Alberto Moreiras has observed commenting on David R. Castillo and William Egginton’s recent book Medialogies: Reading Reality in the Age of Inflationary Media, we are

Professors who must consider not just their students as objects but essentially the totality of [our] work to be driven by exploitation (and self-exploitation) for profit[; and thus we] may no longer be in a position to embrace the parergonal critique[, the critique of frameworks,] Castillo and Egginton recommend [but we may add that this is the balance that Derrida’s double gesture recommends as well], [and] which will turn out to be[, as Moreiras adds] only the residual privilege of those … entrenched enough in the institution to consider [that they] still have a few years of relative academic freedom ahead …. (Unpublished manuscript)

The question then is why the double gesture in Derrida?  For no academic program, no intra-academic event, will ever be hospitable enough for a rigorous thinking of the groundlessness of the university?  And even in those cases where such hospitality is given, is it not “professionalism” which reacts and over-reacts always too soon, and always in the name of foreclosing the abyss in question?  With these questions, I simply want to point out not only that today we are in a situation in which it is more important than ever to rethink and reimagine all our activities as they relate to the university: our service, our pedagogy, our research and writing.[1]  But also that today it might also appear that looking into the abyss has become part and parcel of what the various disciplines do almost as a way of auto-immunizing themselves against the effects of rethinking the lack of foundations.  This is something that is at issue in today’s “post-foudationalism” (including the theory of hegemony and various other inheritors of “poststructuralism”), but also in less purely theoretical contexts—so that it is possible today to see the critique of foundations voiced in terms, for instance, of a reading of the Caribbean.  The point being that the questioning of foundations today seems, up to a point, to be more common today than it was either in 1955-56 or 1983, but that this implies not that we are closer to the radical interrogation of the void on which the university and its various disciplines stands but that things are more complicated than ever before.  How are we to understand that questioning the subject as a foundational category of (identity) politics in the Caribbean can lead one to speak of non-subjects in the Caribbean, of the Caribbean non-subject?

It is with this background in mind that I want to turn to the recent publication of Juan Carlos Quintero Herencia’s groundbreaking book, La hoja de mar (:) Efecto archipielago.  It is also a question of the an-archy, of the void, and of the groundless, seen now in terms of the archi-pelago that breaks the horizon of the principle of reason.  For the effect archi-pelago is an effect without a cause (Quintero Herencia 34)—exactly what the principle of reason interdicts.  I hasten to add that I offer what follows as a way of thinking with Quintero Herencia, as an homage to him, and in gratitude for what his work makes possible.

 

 

II

La hoja de mar is an important and profound look at the Caribbean.  I will refrain from attempting a point-by-point summary of it here.  I simply recommend to you that reading this book will be very much worth your while.  If I had to pick only one path of entry, it would be the one that he himself chooses when he writes about the gestation of the book.  Along with the reading the “warrior-texts of the Cuban Revolution,” Quintero Herencia kept company with a poetry that, while in contact with the historical intensity of the revolutionary experience, it opened a different path: toward a perspective which revealed the sacrificial image of the historically acceptable and recognizable subject of politics as a false one.  The intuition was that: “among the letters that made up certain poems, an essay here or there, in some narratives, the image and the body of another form of political participation and sensibility, as it was labored by literature, was detectable” (11).  He adds:

I believed I could glimpse other literary ways of doing and saying the political, inaudible, perhaps un-sensible, and not very sensible, among the … then hegemonic ways of political discursivity and practice …. But the appearing of these traces was and was not there, in the texts that I read and the contexts that saw them emerge.  I intuited that the political quality of these texts deserved to be read in a different mode, to be savored with different senses.  This confounding sensation regarding how to read these other politics from a different constellation of resonances caused me to set aside my research on the Cuban Revolution for a while. (11)

The intuition concerns a way of being political that does not pass the test of the archive: or, in Quintero Herencia’s words, what is at issue is a kind of writing that does not in any way want to present itself as an autonomous and disenfranchised aesthetic sphere, which sits out or is immune to what happens in a putatively different political realm.  It is a writing that is given to “generate perspectives and to assemble its political subjectivities [but] which are difficult or impossible to submit to verification in the Caribbean archipelago” (11).  Moreover, this difficult intuition is one that does not allow for the disciplinary archival machine to go on without interruption.  It brought the research work of a university scholar to a halt.  The book thematizes in various occasions the disciplinary or academic obstacles that emerge when the intuition that it treats concerns something about the Caribbean which is there only as a lack or a void, which at one point is named a “linking void” (47, falta vinculante).  How to write and think, within the university, but in a different mode, about “what is lacking and what fails” (48)?

To deal with the emptiness between the islands that make up the archipelago is to deal with instances in which reason becomes delirious (34).  As Quintero Herencia puts it: “The archipelago,” as the thought of the an-archic, as the thought of the lack of foundation, “disorganizes disciplinary methodologies to the extent that it literally drags and decomposes [arrastra y descompone] the modes of belonging, identifying and naming a Caribbean citizenship, modernity or sovereignty” (29).  This becoming-abyssal of the most fundamental categories of the various Caribbean archives does not result in recovering or repairing something that was lost or broken, thus filling-in a lacuna.  Rather, it is the insistence on not forgetting the void that attaches to any possible object of the archive whatsoever, a gesture that Quintero Herencia marks with what he calls a “fictitious” equation: ( )-(x).  Thus, it is important to emphasize that this lack needs to be inscribed not as a merely experimental writerly preoccupation or as a subjective deficiency, but as the core of a different kind of understanding of historicity: “The archipelagic lack that monkey-wrenches [traba] a writing is the manifestation of a historical circumstance that signs equally its reading objects, the images savored by the critical sensorium, as well as its writing” (49).

Quintero Herencia’s “sensorium,” which is the center of the book’s considerations, is paradoxical in the way that it does not exclude but makes necessary sensing what presences without being present, without being there in the form of an object which is always an object available for knowledge, and for which one can offer a reason and a cause.  In what follows, I will give it the name of a “materialism of absence”—even if this is a provisional term and one that cannot be found in his text.  I use it as a way of displacing of shifting the emphasis from what would seem like a philosophical or metaphysical interrogation of the ontological difference between being and beings to a pre-occupation with the understanding of historicity that opens when we consider “being” as the unfolding of history by way of the non-equation “()-(x).”  In my estimation, this problematic itself constitutes the central insight of the book.  Again, I cannot do it justice in these short remarks, but what we are dealing with is also the central unresolved tension of this work.  I will limit myself to sketching it out as it relates to the function of the word politics in Quintero Herencia’s text.

Politics constitutes one of the most important threads in making the Caribbean visible in a different manner, in making an “other” politics appear if only precariously.  From the Slave Revolution in Haiti to the Cuban Revolution, as C. L. R. James put it, politics has provided the firmest narrative to erase any trace of a lack in the archipelago, it has served better than anything else to foreclose the void and erect foundations (Quintero Herencia 37-40).  As such, it is also a mechanism that erases or voids other forms of politicity, less foundational forms, such as the rethinking of what words like community and institution can mean.  Following Rancière up to a point, though always in an original form, Quintero Herencia understands his sensorium as the redistribution of the sensible that makes audible the part of those who have no part.  This is one of the cornerstones of his understanding of politics.  And not without reason, since for Rancière, as Quintero Herencia himself points out the demos exists only as the rupture of the arche; the people is the supplement that unhinges the population from itself and, in this sense, can also be understood as one of the effects of the archipelago.  Yet, there is a subtle tremor at the heart of this seemingly too political radicalization of the question of politics as that of broken arches.  We can sense it in the use of the word “quizás” in the following passage, which in my estimation illustrates the book’s central ambivalence regarding words like politics and community:

[I]t is those who differ, those who dissent—before others, once the others accept, in that instant, the communality [comunalidad] of the voice of the whole—[they] are the ones who achieve the activation of the always conflictive political arena [arena, in Spanish, is also “sand,” and as such it is one of the images that in the book indicate disintegration].  To differ in this arena (and sand is abundant at the beach) is to put into question the very nature of taking the word [las tomas de palabra], it is to struggle with the various modes of thinking the problem ….  Perhaps [quizás] it could even be a question of going beyond this Rancièrian arena/sand and communality … in order to open ourselves, and get close to some of the non-subjects in the Caribbean, to the multiplicity of subjects and objects that end up at the shore, [and this] as a way of poking holes into the identitarian dialectic that serves as the foundation of politics in the Caribbean. (22-23)

On the one hand, we have the meeting or reunión of those who up until a certain moment had no part in the communal distribution of the sensible.  This is not a truth that can be demonstrated but the possibility of democracy as it emerges “above a void that makes politics possible” (23).  On the other hand, we have a “perhaps,” which points in the direction of going beyond even that sandy political non-foundation and into a consideration of the non-subject as rethinking of what “politics” might mean beyond the identitarian dialectic of the Caribbean.  Quintero Herencia writes “Quizás se trate incluso, de ir más allá de esa arena…”—going beyond, perhaps, the political arena/sand.  How do we understand the positioning here?  Is the sand in question a way of covering over the abyss at the center of Derrida’s 1983 lecture?  Perhaps.  One way of entering into this question would be to point out that the meditation on the non-subject, and here Quintero Herencia is thinking about the work of Alberto Moreiras in Línea de sombra and beyond, is not at all a beyond that one gets to by sheer will.  Rather, it is simply what follows once we take up seriously or rigorously the rethinking of central political categories like the subject and the community which emerge above a void.  Does the “perhaps,” then, have the function of a barricade that is put in place as protection, to prevent us from falling into the abyss?  Perhaps!

Another reading of this “perhaps” was offered last Friday (March 3rd, 2017) when the book was presented at the Library of Congress.[2]  Juan Duchesne Winter’s reading took aim at what he claimed was the wrong way to critique the identitarian dialectic of Caribbean politics.  Which is that of Moreiras and “la gente de Moreiras,” among whom I count myself I should add.  He stood in front of that barricade protecting us from the void and said that beyond it what lies is the practice of those enthralled by the linguistic turn.  Which as we all know is an accusation that seeks to reduce the work on politics that Quintero Herencia himself is undertaking to a mere preoccupation with language games that take place away from history and reality.  Though the efficacy of this phrase as accusation is undoubtedly waning, it still holds sway, particularly when it comes to very disciplinary and institutional ways of being political and fighting against the overwhelming onslaught of capitalist violence on all fronts, including the university.  In his remarks, Duchesne Winter (a figure that has had an impeccable career and represents the best of what is done under the banner of a Cribbeanist or Latinamericanist banner today, is the last person one expected to go into this kind of forsaking of the professional protocols of the university in the name of visceral dismissal) referred to Derrida’s supposedly logocentric dictum about there being nothing outside of the text, and then, in the question and answer period he explained that he was aiming at the work being done today under the name ifrapolitics.  In a tacit manner, Derrida becomes a stand-in for Moreiras’ place not only in our contemporary university, but also, and more important, in Quintero Herencia’s book.  A move that is strange for many reason, not the least of which is that on the second page of the text of La hoja de mar we find the author referring to Derrida’s notion of the text and the trace in the following terms: “The notion of trace or of text is introduced to mark the limits of the linguist turn.  This is one more reason why I prefer to speak of ‘mark’ rather than of language.  [… The mark] is prelinguistic ….” (quoted in Quintero Herencia 10 n. 2).  No where was this complication considered.  However good-humored, and I do not want to overdramatize this (even as I also do not want to let it go unremarked), this scene can be understood within the purview of the axiomatics of an epistemo-centric and deontologized university that suspends its most basic sense of reasonableness when it comes to protecting its Reason—its arche.  Moreover, the central issue is not only about this specific way of reading Quintero Herencia’s “quizás”—for what is more urgent, to me at least, is to ask as to what in the text makes this barricade/interpretation possible in the first place.  And I want to suggest is that the answer touches on the fact that even after the herculean effort to maintain the logic of the equation of the lack, ()-(x), the text struggles with its impossibility to say politics other than as political; it is as if it is not sufficient to simply say another politics, or politics otherwise, without the risk becoming too great for a re-politicization that does not take the archi-pelagic effect into account in any way.  The problematic that opens here is not simply a question of using different words.  If Quintero Herencia had used the word infrapolitics, for instance, the issues would remain.  I want to spend what remains of my time today trying to outline some of the major problems that need to be thought through if we are to be rigorous with the question at hand.

 

 

III

To return to the question of what earlier I called materialism of absence, I want to center my remarks on a recent novel written by Carlos Fonseca, Cronel Lágrimas.  Fonseca was born in San José, Costa Rica, but was raised in Puerto Rico, spent his graduate and undergraduate years between Stanford and Princeton, he currently lives in London, and he has published a novel about Alexander Grothendrieck’s self-exile from fame, politics and cosmopolitan life.  Grothendriek was a pacifist and a mathematician, and you might have already thought deeply about his work if you have invested any time on Alain Badiou’s second volume of Being and Event, published in 2006 as Logics of Worlds.  Badiou’s complex concept of world, a “remodeling … of the relationship between the thinking of place (topology) and the thinking of the multiple” (389), is only his philosophical translation of Grothendieck’s work.  To think Fonseca’s book one must first develop a framework which would allow one to move across many disparate fields of knowledge, but also across the many absences that make up no field, and never serve as the constitutive void of any discursivity.

            Coronel Lágrimas is a book that does not have the Caribbean at its center.  It will not serve to speak of non-subjects in the Caribbean.  It will instead monkey-wrench any possible attempt to domesticate the text by framing it within a disciplinary field.  The life that occupies it most intensely is actually a fictive delirium that unfolds taking Grothendieck as a point of departure, but only to unwork both the historical and the biographical novel, as the author tells us in a final note that was not included in the English translation (Fonseca Coronel Lágrimas 169).  Lágrimas, the anchorite, the hermit, the pacifist that flees from the world, is haunted by one image.  His whole life is structured by it.  Or so he thinks.  Toward the end of the book we read:

The colonel’s guilt is simple: he refused to add a final point to that hallucinatory cartography [which spans the familial itinerary that precedes him: a father and a mother that lived through all the major social upheavals of the last two centuries: Russia, Mexico, Spain, Vietnam, France; he has refused to add a final point to that map:] a Caribbean point.  That’s why, on … his final night … he devotes himself to creating a false Caribbean diva behind whose story lies the key to his life and passion, to the twinge that disturbs his well-being and condemns him to the worst kind of tedium.  Cayetana Boamante is the final guilt of a private man. (Colonel Lágrimas. A Novel 209-10)

The guilt concerns the nagging sensation that the Colonel has in the last hours of his life: perhaps he should have taken a plane, loaded it up with his chalkboards full of mathematical equations, and gone to the Caribbean to build the revolution in America.  Why was it impossible for him to follow in his father’s revolutionary footsteps?  Why the hesitation when it came to go with Cayetana, his only true love, and “hurl himself with pistols blazing into the Antilles war” (210).  Why could he not go draw his equations “in the middle of Caribbean gunfire” (210)?  Cayetana’s face is a “Caribbean face,” the face of a mulata with Asiatic and African features—but it is also, as the narrator tells us, “a face in a pantomime of juvenile militancy” (210).  It is this complex image which makes everything come into focus.  Only through it, the narrator tells us, do “We understand everything—the faces, the maps, the genealogies, the archive in all its density” (210).  However, the narrator immediately adds, the image allows us to understand: “Everything except what really matters: that simple gesture by which the colonel let go of himself in the middle of his life” (210).  This gesture is the reason why we are attending to the last day of life of the Colonel, the reason why we are spying on him and his solitude.  There is a happiness that breaks through his decrepitude, his drunkenness, his sermons, everything he says, but which is foreign to the man himself, a happiness of which he is not conscious but which perforates his every word.  The character’s own explanation of his life begins to sound like a farce to the narrator.  The old man exclaims that he sees Cayetana “ready to free the Caribbean islands,” but he “disregarded her entreaties and was left with a photograph” (211, 212).  He thinks that this is the defining event of his life.  This decision is the one that makes everything else fall into place.  But this is all simply information.  The narrator says:

The colonel speaks in information, as if information could be distilled, then become life.  Perhaps that was his mistake: believing that life was something distilled like alcohol, to be drunk later ….  Perhaps his mistake was in thinking that life could be reduced to the eternal rosary of the consequences of a simple decision.  History, as some bearded man said, repeats itself first as tragedy and later as a farce.  In the case of the man who we now look at face to face … who knows what comes first, the farce or the tragedy.  The colonel’s life requires a new genre, a kind of tragic farce that annuls the distinctions between comic and tragic.  …  No, we cannot understand the colonel.  We can approach him …, we can get closer to his truth from a thousand different angles ….  Limit ourselves to the task of a photographer, the copyist, the archive.  No, we cannot understand the colonel, but we can question the tragedy of his farce and corner him until we see him laugh his last laugh. (212-213)

This is a remarkable text in that it manages to condense a vast number of problematics directly touching on the Caribbean without pretending therefore to offer a clear image and logic of it; in fact, it does so while dissolving the very possibility of thinking the Caribbean as a specific code destined to be guarded by academic discipline.  The image of the Caribbean itself is what is adduced as the false start which turns everything into an object of the understanding—which always seems to come too quickly and therefore always brings with it a certain guilt.  The refusal of the Caribbean point is not an event but the beginning of a retreat from the world.  Yet this absence, if processed too directly leads to the forced creation of the image of Cayetana as a surface upon which to project the pseudo-logic of a life.  And it makes too much sense, it is the production of subjective sense as such, an injection of sense, based on the model of the processing of information.  The Caribbean as the guiding light of redemptive models of history, a place defined by the multivalence of the carnival which, as Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá puts it, is “always a rehearsal for revolution” (57), but which by the very same token puts the Caribbean as the position of being the reverse, and all-too-political, teleological narrative of the sort of historiography that the passages indicates needs to be displaced.  The Colonel thinks that his life is defined by the guilt produced in the act of saying no to the love of Cayetana, the Caribbean mulata.  And this is nothing but information.  Beyond and breaking through this subjectivist projection what the text points to, there is a life and a happiness that has nothing to do with the luxuries and the justifications of the man called Colonel Tears.  The “teary” declarations regarding the formalizing drive of the Colonel are offset by something in him that is not available to him for inspection.  Neither is it available to us.  The ideal of a passive and neutral sovereign act, evoked here in the figure of the photographer and the copyist, and which is a cipher for a relationship with modern aesthetics since the romantics, this ideal can only give us information—such is Fonseca’s wager.  Even if the information in question is that of the dictates of the spirit as it passes through the strings of the Aeolian harp or the void of the lens, rendering the subject as a mere recording devise for a higher authority, but also authorizing his word and exalting it to the point where it is the word of the highest value.  The work of art, this Caribbean work of art, set adrift in the globe, does not give us what is most important: but it lets us know that it is known that that which is most important is not computable by it.

What would be necessary would be nothing less than a complete overhaul of the thought of history as we have inherited from Marx—and therefore, to go back further, from Hegel, and therefore, to go back even further, and this is most important, as we have inherited from the Haitian Revolution.  The Caribbean, then, first as a moment of modernity and not also of modernity (Buck-Morss 138).  The Caribbean in its “experience of impoverished dependence on the global economy, in early struggle against Western policies of genocide, and in its postcolonial, hierarchical articulation of social elites,” writes Susan Buck-Morss in her Hegel, Haiti and Universal History, “stands as the vanguard of the history of modernity” (137-138).  But this formulation, useful as it is for a certain decolonial drive to delight in the secondariness of Europe in all respects, is far from enough.  And Fonseca’s text illuminates this insufficiency.  For what we are saying when we are able to point out that the Haitian Revolution places the Caribbean at the forefront of all those socio-economic and political processes that Buck-Morss collects as so many names of the (now primary) Caribbean (the experience of impoverished dependence, the postcolonial articulation of elites, the struggle against Western genocide), what is left unthought, I want to emphasize, is that this primacy itself is of the order of the image, of the order of a sensorium which would other politics.  The issue is not simply a matter of settling a score with any one school of thought.  It is a rather important point that needs to be made in this regard, if we are going to be able to grasp some of the most extreme connotations in Fonseca’s text, as well as in the consideration of the an-archic engagement with the (Caribbean) archive.

Allow me a short digression.  Eduardo Lalo has written extensively on the problem of this primary secondariness in relation to Puerto Rico and its place within the process of globalization.  For him, Puerto Rico lived through globalization before we had a concept for it, and therefore, he states, “before it was possible to think it” (54).  For Lalo, this globalizing process has allowed certain regions of the planet that were previously invisible to gain a place of visibility in the present world stage.  But this has not been the case for Puerto Rico.  And it would be a dubious honor indeed to claim to be the first to have gone through the globalizing process.  In fact, what takes place is a radicalization of the problem (and this is what is lost in the decolonial explanation of modernity).  As Lalo puts it:

Not only has globalization not made us anymore visible, on the contrary, that form of mundialization of the consumer society has created the conditions in which as other regions take on characteristics that, for some time now, have been ours, we ourselves begin to appear more and more as an unsettling generic image.  Creating the illusion, born out of our condition of inexistence [of being invisible to the world], that it can be possible to think of us as copies of what we were the first to announce to the world. (54)

The question then becomes: the inscription of Puerto Rico into globalization, as a historical process, is it the tragedy or the farce?  Does it become more thinkable, less mute, if we re-inscribe it or mark out a way to sense it, shifting the archive, within the master-slave dialectic?  Or do these questions only serve to make Lalo and Fonseca and the various names of the Caribbean even more invisible, mute and unthinkable?  Lalo’s work is of great importance within this horizon, for as a whole—in books like donde, La inutilidad, Intemperie, or Los pies de San Juan—it is one of the clearest appraisals of what it would mean to be a materialist regarding the historical specificity of the various Caribbeans we have been alluding to so far.  Which is to say, what it would mean to be a materialist regarding the historical specificity of an absence that needs to be placed as the first evidence of any discourse on the various Caribbean archives at issue here.  The paradox, though this might seem paradoxical only from certain points of view, is that this materialism would go after a point that is there only as its absence.  And yet, to close this digression, to leave things here would ultimately give the false impression that what is at issue is the appropriateness of Lalo’s view of things to the reality of the Caribbean.  And I want to argue is that it goes much further than that.

To get back to the Colonel: perhaps it would be useful to think against even the narrator of the novel, and ask: does not the avoidance of saying the name Marx, above all when what is implied is clear to all, tell us something about the naiveté of the voice in question?  Does not the apparently radical questioning concerning a reconfiguration and cancelling out of the tragic and the comic belie the attitude of one who is already too caught up in the invisibilization of the original that becomes generic secondary image as it begins to infect the thought of the European other?  Did not Hegel already lay out that tragedy in its pure form was no longer attainable in a world without the possibility of a spontaneous knowledge of the whole?  What I want to suggest by way of these questions is that it could be possible to see the endgame of this Caribbean novel, which is nevertheless built around the central character’s exclusion of the Caribbean point, as the desire for a theory of the dialectic that we already have at our disposal from Hegel, which neglects to think the place of Haiti in it, and neglects as well to think all that this implies when thinking the dialectic itself.  This reading would in effect obscure the play of visibility and invisibility that I touched on by way of Lalo.  Could we also derive Hegel’s theory of tragedy and all that it implies in his thought from his reading of the Haitian Revolution?  We do not need to go back to Hegel and Marx to think the possibility of a future reconfiguration of the relationship between the tragic and the comic in the Caribbean archive.

The list of Caribbean rewritings of classic tragedies is rife with examples of just that.  Virgilio Piñera’s Electra Garrigó, José Triana’s Medea en el espejo, Luis Rafael Sánchez’s Antígona Pérez, Reinaldo González’s Medea, Iván Silen’s various versions of Oedipus, these works share the impossibility of sustaining the tragic tonality with any assurance.  Even the most earnest of these, as is the case with Antígina Pérez, evoke a smile simply by the juxtaposition of first and last names.  And in many cases the rewriting of the tragedy has no other purpose than to put an end to the tragedy in question.  For example, in González’s Medea, a Cuban exile in what seems to be Florida (though it is not named), keeps her children alive even if only so that they can be turned into idiots by the Imperial educational system.  And rarely do these works give the definitive impression that what is at issue is working out an example of just action in the face of tyranny—in fact, the opposite is more often the case.  In Piñera’s Electra Garrigó the heroine triumphs only to become the embodiment of a totalitarian will to be in all things everywhere.  This is also an example of the farce being itself the tragedy, that the liberated one becomes the oppressor, as if this cycle itself, which is always there if only tacitly, were the real manifestation of the tragic.  The result is a mode in which the tragic elements hover above the manifest elements of plays which achieve the paradoxical effect of entertaining.  One would be tempted to conclude, though things are much more complicated than this, that the point of rewriting tragedies in the Caribbean is to make the audience laugh.  From a different point of view, and to paraphrase Fonseca, I would argue that what is at work in these pseudo-tragedies is a deep questioning of the tragedy of farce, which takes place until the audience laughs its last laugh.  Why, then, are these precursors not seen by the figure that poses the problem as if it were a matter of a radical event to come, or of something still to be thought through?

As a way of beginning to offer an answer to that question, allow me to turn to the Haitian Revolution as it has been thought in the tragic form.  Among the various classic plays written about the Haitian Revolution, including those by Lamartine, Jean Brierre, Langston Hughes, Aimé Césaire, Derek Walcott, and Édouard Glissant, I want only to touch briefly on the work of Glissant and Césaire.  We know that C. L. R. James imagined Toussaint Louverture as a heroic world-historical figure whose tragedy was his loss of touch with the popular base that gave meaning to his struggle—and that Aimé Césaire followed in his footsteps.  The political imagination behind these two versions of the leader is unmistakable.  They were rescuing this figure at a specific moment in history to mark a possible path of struggle.  James, at first in the late 1930s, and with the help of Paul Robeson, wanted to show to what extent civilization was simply the carnage of the colonial enterprise; and later, in the 1950s and 1960s, he rewrote the play as a commentary on the ongoing struggles for national liberation.  Glissant, however, wants to distance himself from this overtly political tack.  In the preface to the 1961 edition of Monsieur Toussaint, he explains his aim in these terms:

… the present work is not politically inspired; rather it is linked to what I would call, paradoxically, a prophetic vision of the past.  For those whose history has been reduced by others to darkness and despair, the recovery of the near or distant past is imperative.  To renew acquaintance with one’s history, obscured or obliterated by others, is to relish fully the present, for the experience of the present, stripped of its roots in time, yields only hollow delights.  This is a poetic endeavor. (15-16)

I want to call attention not so much to the program to relish fully the present, poetically restored to its fullness in connection with an illuminated and restituted past.  It could be argued that the turn of phrase in this instance makes it very easy to misunderstand Glissant’s rather complex ideas on time, which since at least his second novel, The Fourth Century [Le quatrième siècle, published three years later in 1964], hinge on the notion that in the new world the past is a negative plenitude, which can never be fully unfolded in a linear or historicists fashion.  In fact, if it can be said that Glissant’s language as a whole is an attempt to find an Antillean conception of time, then the word “conception” must take into account the negativity at the heart of the temporal that his take on this complex problem implies: a time that is not available to be wielded and presented as a positive quantity.  For Glissant, this is a time that does not fall into the genealogical linearity of project and projection.  And it is for this reason that he can say that the inspiration behind the play about Louverture is not political, or at least not political in the sense that the work of James and Césaire was imagined to be a direct political answer to the question: “what is to be done?”

However, it could also be possible to interpret Glissant’s words as one of the possible not-so-political lessons that can be learned from Césaire’s poetics in general, and in the tragicomic treatment of King Christophe specifically.  In Césaire’s The Tragedy of King Christophe, the initial dispute concerns the provisions against tyranny, which for Christophe were simply a way of curtailing his personal power; the amendment to the constitution limiting the powers of the president were put in place, he felt, not because of a republican principle but as a reaction to the color of his skin.  To this he counters that what his people truly need at that point is the uneasy freedom of the State: “Yes, my philosopher friend,” he tells Pétion, “something that will enable this transplanted people to strike roots, to burgeon and flower, to fling the fruits and perfumes of its flowering into the face of the world, something which, to speak plainly, will oblige our people, by force if need be, to be born of itself, to surpass itself” (13).

For Christophe, the problem of the Haitian people is not that the French, or the rest of the world for that matter, does not respect them because they are black or because of the republican nature of their government.  For him, it is a question of the self-inflicted injury caused by indolence and the hatred of discipline (18).  The remedy is the discipline that comes with the creation of the State.  And the state is, for him, an alternative way of dealing with the temporal negative plentitude at issue in Glissant’s thought.  As Christophe explains, it is because their real names, their past, has been forever lost, that he wants to forget the slave names and create a court with titles which will be the names of “rebirth” and “redemption” (26).  In his own words: “Since we can’t rescue our names from the past, we’ll take them from the future” (25).  The solemnity of the pronouncement contrasts with the King’s new Court and their understanding of the issue.  For the more ironic members of the new nobility, the essence of the founding of the kingdom of Christophe has everything to do with the efficacy of pure form, which for them stands for blind faith in an inane formalism.  As Vastey puts it with irony:

Form is what counts, my friend.  That’s what civilization is … the forming of man.  Think it over.  Form is the matrix of being, of substance, in short, of man himself.  Of everything.  It’s empty, yes, but what a stupendous, generative, life-giving emptiness!  …  There’s one man who understands it instinctively.  That’s Christophe.  With his great potter’s hands, kneading the Haitian clay—he may not know, but what is more important, he feels, he smells, the sinuous line of the future, in a word, the form.  Believe me, that’s something in a country like ours. (22)

The mocking speech paints Christophe’s project as a pretentious and merely aesthetic foolishness (21, 22)—particularly given that the scene revolves around a discussion regarding the precedents for titles such as the Duke of Marmalade, of Lemonade, of Candytown, the Count of Stinkhole, and so forth.  The humor of the scene is hard to miss and it taints the entire catastrophic enterprise until the end.  It is for this reason that one of the lessons that can be gleaned from Césaire’s play is precisely that there is a danger in a merely political solution to the political problem at hand: which in this case means imagining that a certain kind of modern program to mold and form men, and to give them their time, is the be all and end all of politics as such.  Metellus, the chief of the rebels, appears briefly, but for him the Revolution was betrayed the second that “politicos” got involved (30).  That is, Christophe (king) and Pétion (president) are a false opposition: they are a double tyranny (30).  The fear, or the cautionary note being sounded, is that all politics is simply the caricature of politics as it is supposed to really and truthfully be … elsewhere (34).  Césaire does not say it, but the point is implicitly made in the play: the King’s understanding of the problem of having to be a materialist with regards to the absence that is their history has been solved the wrong way—and it has been solved the wrong way in its Hegelian overtones: a rising up from the chaos and toward the idea of the state as the correct form for politics.  If we take Buck-Morss seriously, that Hegel’s reading of the Haitian Revolution was, like the Colonel’s reading of his own life, the wrong kind of reading—the reading that reads only for the information, the reading that forgets that what matters most is not going to be found in any one of the words of the text.  Christophe would stand in for the generic secondariness that Lalo outlines.  It is time to go back to the reason behind the narrator’s naïve questioning of history repeating itself as farce in Fonseca’s novel.

The answer is not that the narrative voice is also forgetting the Caribbean point and thus authorizing itself out of a sanctioned ignorance that ends up transforming what is ignored into a generic copy of itself.  This would imply that is it simply a question of restoring the visibility of what was ignored, after which we would have solved all our problems.  In fact, that is exactly what the text tells us that the Colonel did.  He restored the missing point, the Caribbean point, and explained his life away.  The question is posed in all its naiveté, as if the narrator were the first in history to think of the possibility, to signal to a more profound problematic which begins precisely by mistaking the empty pronouncement for a radical insight.  What this forgetting achieves is the perpetual continuation of the circle of total politicization in the name of a materiality that is in fact only information without thought.  And wouldn’t it be quite ironic that one could say something like this about the dialectic: that it is a machine for reducing existence into information without thought.

I want to conclude these remarks by clarifying a point which I think can be easily misunderstood about what I have been trying to outline here today.  It is well known that the dialectic and the absolute have been intricately linked and in a very facile manner to totalitarianism.  It is one of the great quips of contemporary neo-communist thought that this charge is always used in order to prevent any real politics from ever taking place, that somehow pointing to this link is only a way of infinitely extending a sort of negative or destructive critique, which because it is infinite, simply serves to safeguard the way things are (and as we all know, today things are absolutely horrible).  If we were to follow this admittedly facile line of thought, one could adduce any number of examples from the Caribbean archives and be done with it.  One could cite Reinaldo Arena’s El asalto, a novel that is an acerbic critique and hilarious parody of the Castro dictatorship in Cuba.  One of the things that “El Reprimerísimo,” Castro’s stand-in, decrees is that in a society that has been liberated from all forms of alienation there cannot be the darkness of night, which they will have to abolish—a feat that is accomplished by calling it the non-night  (60).  This desire to get rid of all negativity is not at all unfamiliar as a way of sketching the basic logic of the totalitarian mindset.  But this is not quite what I am trying to get at.  And I think the point can be made by emphasizing that from the perspective of a fierce critique of the Cuban state, such as Rafael Rojas,’ who can be identified as a voice deeply committed to a new form of republicanism and democracy in the island, tarrying with the negative in this sense, such as it was done by that sector of the intellectual tradition which prior to the Revolution made the materialism of absences its own, is identified as a nihilist readying of the of the ground needed for the arrival of the Revolution.  For Rojas, this disbelief in the pseudo-Republic, or this obstinate discipline which insists on pointing out that the first evidence is something that lacks or is not there, heralds the occupation of all political space by a hyper nihilist will to destroy and clear the slate, and to act as Christophe: projecting and molding the human clay into a proper citizen under the time of the absolute State.

However, the link between what I am calling here materialisms of absence and any one juridico-political determination is far from being an obvious and linear relation of cause and effect.  One could argue that it is one of the upshots of any materialism of absence to allow us to think the contradiction and even the error at the heart of any declaration of necessity between the void as first evidence and political determinations in general.  That is Chirstophe’s error as it was Lezama’s (when he compared Castro entering Havana to the Second Coming of Christ).  Yet the leap from one to the other remains beyond the capabilities of all apparatuses of capture.  To paraphrase Fonseca once more: No, we cannot understand ….  We can approach …, we can get closer to [t]his truth from a thousand different angles ….  Limit ourselves to the task of a photographer, the copyist, the archive.  Nevertheless, we do understand the limits this implies.  And in this understanding we also glimpse that inquiring about the void at the heart or foundation of any one political determination is not something that “perhaps even includes” going beyond the “arena” of politics.  It could be one of the tasks of the university today were we to allow it to tremble a little.  Otherwise, and to close with Quintero Herencia’s words: “What the Caribbean … is not” will continue to be “idealized and demonstrated as a mythical reality by the various disciplinary custodians of the archive” (112).  For this to happen, however, it is not enough to say politics otherwise.  For othering politics is one of the contemporary forms that disciplinary and all-too-professional work takes on.

 

Bibliography

Arenas, Reinaldo. El asalto. Barcelona: Tusquets Editores, 2003. Print.

Badiou, Alain. Logics of Worlds. Being and Event II. Trans. Toscano, Alberto. London; New York: Continuum, 2009. Print.

Buck-Morss, Susan. Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009. Print.

Césaire, Aimé. The Tragedy of King Christophe. 1963. Trans. Menheim, Ralph. New York: Grove Press, 1969. Print.

Derrida, Jacques. Eyes of the University. Right to Philosophy 2. Trans. Plug, Jan and Others. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004. Print.

Fonseca, Carlos. Colonel Lágrimas. A Novel. Trans. McDowell, Megan. Brooklyn, NY: Restless Books, 2016. Print.

____. Coronel Lágrimas. Barcelona: Anagrama, 2015. Print.

Glissant, Éduard. Monsieur Toussaint. 1961. Trans. Dash, J. Michael. Boulder; London: Lynne Reiner, 2005. Print.

Lalo, Eduardo. Los países invisibles. 2008. Córdoba: Corregidor, 2014. Print.

Moreiras, Alberto. “Universidad y principio de equivalencia. Hacia el fin de la Alta Alegoría. Borrador de conferencia para 17 Instituto de Estudios Críticos, México DF, 22 de enero, 2017.” Infrapolitical Deconstruction.  https://infrapolitica.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/universidad-y-principio-de-equivalencia-hacia-el-fin-de-la-alta-alegoria-borrador-de-conferencia-para-17-instituto-de-estudios-criticos-mexico-df-22-de-enero-2017-por-alberto-moreiras/ 2017.

Quintero Herencia, Juan Carlos. La hoja de mar (:). Efecto archipiélago I. Leiden, The Netherlands: Almenara, 2016. Print.

Rodríguez Juliá, Edgardo Caribeños. San Juan: Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, 2002. Print.

 

 

[1]           A good starting point for this rethinking is Moreiras’ “Universidad y principio de equivalencia. Hacia el fin de la Alta Alegoría” (a draft of this talk was presented at “17, Instituto de Estudios Críticos” itself a good example of what a post-university might look like).

[2]           The remarks have since been published online: <http://www.80grados.net/el-telurismo-materialista-de-juan-carlos-quintero-herencia/&gt;

Comentario a un testimonio. Por Alberto Moreiras.

http://www.revistatransas.com/category/dossier-la-frontera-mexico-ee-uu-desplazamientos-contenciones-agencias-movilizaciones/th

Si pudiéramos intentar algo así como una fenomenología del informante —es decir, establecer una tipología imposible: ¿cómo son los informantes, a qué mecanismos responden, qué buscan en lo que hacen, qué satisfacción libidinal obtienen de su labor?—, creo que Me decían mexicano frijolero sería el lugar en donde buscar los rasgos primarios de un informante en grado cero.  Así, a Roberto Rangel le correspondería el honor atroz de configurar el tipo más extremo del informante: el que informa contra su voluntad, contra su vida, contra su satisfacción libidinal, contra lo que quiera que pueda entenderse como su felicidad; un informante esclavo, que actúa solo siguiendo un imperativo deconstituyente. A Rangel le dicen: “Informa, es tu ley, firmaste un contrato, no tienes opción, y si no lo hicieras despanzurraríamos a tus novias, mataríamos a tus hijos, y luego nos desharíamos de ti”.  Rangel no tiene vida, aunque la busca: se la han robado.  Sabe que sirve a canallas, sabe que el sistema que le rodea sirve también a esos canallas, no tiene recurso alguno, y el milagro es siempre el milagro de una supervivencia precaria, en la cárcel, cincuenta y siete años por un asesinato inventado, cincuenta y siete años falsos, porque Rangel no cuenta, no sirve, no es, o es solo carne de cañón, y a esa gente se la condena solo porque sí, ninguna otra cosa sería consistente, ni la verdad ni la justicia pueden entrar en el procedimiento.  Solo el escarnio.

Porque hay escarnio sádico por parte del policía que lo maneja como informante y lo convierte en su servidor sexual y lo humilla y degrada en cada visita, el policía que lo llama “mexicano frijolero” en el momento de la violación y que le hace comer carne escupida en el suelo porque no otra cosa merecen los mexicanos frijoleros que creen que pueden venir a Estados Unidos a comer carne.  Son ellos mismos carne, carne usable sexualmente o económicamente, pero por fuera de eso son nada, no son nada, son nada. Son solo transcripciones, objetos para el despliegue de una psicosis predatoria que cuenta, por otro lado, con la cobertura oficial, estatal, con todo el cuerpo de policía, con todo el aparato estatal.  Roberto Rangel cae en una máquina de triturar cuerpos y espíritus y ya no saldrá nunca; paradójicamente, solo la cárcel trae cierta medida de tranquilidad, la posibilidad de aprender a leer, de aprender a escribir, de dar un testimonio que nadie creerá nunca, que será siempre considerado ficción y puesto a la distancia de la ficción porque nadie puede dar crédito a su verdad sin entrar en la noche sicótica: no es solo el policía Rivas o la María de Inmigración, sino todos los demás agentes que deben descreer cualquier palabra de Rangel, el abogado, el fiscal, el juez, nadie puede atenerse a la verdad simple, al mero testimonio, pero qué testimonio, todos piensan que hay mentira, que no puede ser, pero es justo a través de ese no poder ser, a través de su improbabilidad misma. Es la noche psicótica. En ella Rangel escucha “you are a bitch, nothing but a bitch, I will make you my bitch, you will become a bitch, I will give you your proper existence as a bitch, your being must match your worth, your name is the name of a bitch, proper name, mexicano frijolero, suck my cock o despanzurro a tu hijo”.

Hay que preguntarse cómo se desvincularía el Presidente Trump de esta situación. Cuando le dice a Peña Nieto pay for the wall, pay for my wall, you must, or you will suffer the consequences, no tienes opción, y si no lo hicieras despanzurraré a tus hijos, mataré a tus novias, I will make you my bitch, you already are my bitch, ¿no está el Presidente Trump introduciendo la noche psicótica en la política internacional? Para su propia catexis libidinal, para su propia descarga, así son los hombres, como Rivas, el detective de Fresno que tiene la confianza de su gente, de la DEA, de la Highway Patrol, del fiscal del distrito, de los abogados, de los jueces, o la compra. Al fin y al cabo, el mismo Rivas tiene acceso a toda la cocaína del mundo, y así al dinero, para eso le sirven sus informantes.

Hay otros informantes.  Está por ejemplo el Butcher’s Boy, el protagonista de The Informant, de Thomas Perry, que informa a una empleada del Departamento de Justicia porque esa información sirve a su propio interés, a su propio cálculo, a su frío plan de venganza, o no es venganza, solo precaución, esos tipos mejor que estén en la cárcel o muertos. Él es un asesino, pero no puede matarlos a todos, son muchos, y así se ayuda a sí mismo, en cuanto asesino, como informante, por cálculo: informante radical, como lo que decía Kant del mal radical, el mal que se hace por cálculo, por oportunismo, aunque el otro lo merezca. Pero no es el mal diabólico del informante en grado cero, del informante que es, no agente, sino paciente del mal diabólico, una vez cruza la frontera.  Pero ahora habrá un muro.

Y luego está el otro informante, el informante serio, profesional, el informante que informa por deber, el informante que acepta una vida de riesgo y traición, de infinita distancia, porque hay una ley que hacer cumplir, una ley que cumplir, y hacerse informante es afirmar la libertad, es ser libre, aunque uno está solo cumpliendo leyes, haciendo que la ley se cumpla, cooperando en ello, no importa el precio: el informante moral, o informante en grado pleno, por ejemplo, el Robert Manzur de The Infiltrator. La tipología del informante coincide con el análisis kantiano, gran cosa, hay mal trivial, y luego hay mal radical y hay mal diabólico, y hay libertad moral, y no hay más.

Pero es una tipología precaria. El informante, como todos, solo quiere que algún ángel vuelva a su vida, como Tobías, que perdió a su ángel y pasó el resto de su vida, hasta los ciento diecisiete años, añorándolo, pidiendo su retorno. No es posible vivir sin ángel, o la única manera de hacerlo es vivir en la nostalgia del ángel. No habría hospitalidad sin tal nostalgia, la nostalgia del ángel es condición de hospitalidad. El informante informa en nostalgia de ángel. El informante pide hospitalidad, requiere hospitalidad, y a veces la da, pero solo para recuperarla. Para el pobre Rangel, el ángel es quizá el hijo que no conoce, al que no conocerá nunca, la segunda hija de la otra novia que también pierde, los hijos que vienen y se van, y de los que no se puede asegurar retorno alguno, ya no, no así, y sin embargo, si así no, ¿entonces cómo? Rangel pide cruzar la frontera, pide volver después de su deportación, cosa humanitaria, tiene un hijo, quiere ser recibido por su hijo, y cae en las manos de una policía que parecía trivial pero es diabólica, y así, sin papeles, sin letras, atado solo por la amenaza de muerte general, no es ya más que esclavo, pronto adicto a su esclavitud misma, informante que ya no informa, porque informar requiere una distancia ahora perdida. Y ya no hay distancia, a menos que la letra del testimonio mismo pueda organizarse como distancia, a menos que una verdad sea en última instancia expresable, aunque nadie pueda creerla. A menos que pueda entrar el ángel en la carta.

An explanation for ‘deconstructing the administrative state’. By Gerardo Muñoz.

A few weeks ago at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference), when Steve Bannon, Donald J. Trump’s White House chief strategist, laid out the principle of “the deconstruction of the administrative state” as one of the immediate objectives of the Trump administration, there followed a storm of commentaries. For academics in the humanities, it was a perfect setting to mock ‘deconstruction’, and assert the un-political character of this so called “theoretical trend” in the academia, easily linking Derrida with Bannon’s strategic plan.

Just to cite one of many examples, French writer Alain Mabanckou twitted: “Steve Bannon, le mentor de Trump parle de “deconstruction” du povuir de Washington. Deconstrution? Srait-il un lecteur de Derrida?”. Many more followed on social media and in academic groups. These witty remarks were, of course, written under the sign of irony, which is certainly a central stimmung of our time. But irony is also one of the most serious genres to discuss a serious affair, of which I would like to briefly contemplate. Of course, my intention is not to defend Derrida, or even worse, to prove that Bannon has not read Derrida. I am sure that Bannon has not read Derrida, and even if he has heard of him, or someone told him a few things about deconstruction as a critical strategy of contemporary thought, this is irrelevant.

Bannon’s usage of deconstruction of the administrative state is correct, although in another sense. For one thing, deconstructing the administrate state is a technical term used in sociology and political science analysis as it relates to the fiscal state. In his new book Democracy against Domination (2017), Sebeel Rahman discusses the deconstructive force of computative fiscal logic over institutional structures and governmental regulatory bureaucracy [1]. In a good portion of the literature, whenever the notion of deconstruction of the administrative state is used, it refers directly to the dismantling of the fiscal regulatory apparatus (see Norris 2000). Whereas it might, at first sight, seem that Bannon is misinformed or just downright clownish, he is deeply versed in the specific discipline that he wants to target; mainly, political science of the welfare state as it has been discussed from the New Deal onwards.

One could press this point even further: the idea that Bannon wants to ‘deconstruct the administrative state’ does not merely amount to ‘more neoliberalism’ as cultural critics seem to reduce the problem. This is part of the truth, but not the whole truth. The attempt to attack the administrative state entails a serious assault on the rule of law, since as the most intelligent constitutionalists have recently noted, the administrative state is today the legal structure that has supplanted legitimacy over the deficit of presidentialism of the executive branch. Adrian Vermuele (2016) makes it clear that the administrative state is the law’s greatest triumph after the weakening of the separation of powers. This ultimately entails, that perhaps Bannon is well aware that it is not enough to destroy a democratic society from the standpoint of a sovereign executive, since it must be done from the very place where the rule of law resides, and this is where the administrative state plays a fundamental role. Bannon’s deconstructive gesture goes to the heart of the rule of law, which we have already started seeing as a check mechanism to Trump’s rampant executive unilateralism. Hence, the rumor that says that Bannon is a Leninst should be taken very seriously: Leninism seeks the destruction of the state and rule of law in order to create a dictatorship of the proletariat, which is Bannon’s civilizational response to globalization [2]. Bannon is a full-fleshed anti-institutionalist who admires not only Lenin, but also the decade of the thirties that he has called “exciting”.

At this point, it is perhaps almost unnecessary to say that Derrida’s deconstruction has little do with Bannon’s loaded attack on institutions of the welfare state. However, what is important is to note that Bannon’s articulation of deconstruction is inequivalent to Derrida, and a comparison becomes only possible if one subscribes to a transparent conceptual reservoir of the linguistic turn in order to abuse it. Thus, whenever a linguistic component is emphasized as hyperbolic of intellectual thought, the latter is suspended to favor an easy advantage in tandem with anti-politics.

Derrida emphasized that deconstruction was a condition of democracy, and that democracy could not take place without deconstruction. Democracy is really not a political concept in Derrida’s thought. It is not reducible to a tradition of “intellectual history”, and not even to the primal causation of life as predicated in the political. Such was, for Derrida, the exemplary nature of Mandela [3]. But to the extent that it solicits unconditional hospitality, it alters the alterity of the singular that is never reducible to political finality. This coming of friendship or non-enmity is another way of thinking through an infrapolitical existence. It is this demotic existence beyond the political what Bannon wants to destroy and obstruct in a move that is both fully ultra-political and non-political.

Notes

  1. K. Sebeel Rahman. Democracy against Domination. Manhattan: Oxford University Press, 2016.
  2. “Steve Bannon, Trump’s top guy, told me he was ‘A Leninst’ who wants to ‘destroy the State’. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/08/22/steve-bannon-trump-s-top-guy-told-me-he-was-a-leninist.html
  3. Jacques Derrida. The Politics of Friendship. London: Verso, 2005. P.102-106. “Admiration of Nelson Mandela, or The Laws of Reflection”, Law & Literature, Vol.26, 2014.

Comentario a un libro de Monedero. Por Alberto Moreiras.

IMG_5199En el final del libro de Juan Carlos Monedero, Curso urgente de política para gente decente (2013), hay como tres páginas de listas de cosas que uno quiere disfrutar, y que aparecen en nuestra vida, si tenemos ojos y oídos para ello, como los fulgores en lo oscuro de Georges Didi-Huberman. El lema es “hacer política como si nos fuera en ello la vida.” Esto es, hacer política, viene a decir, para que la vida no sea políticamente agotable, hacer política para ganar algo otro que la política–y esto es lo específicamente definible como de izquierdas (la política de derechas busca en realidad lo mismo, dice Monedero, pero desde el miedo y no desde la esperanza, a partir del privilegio de algunos contra el privilegio de todos; y el miedo impone su precio). Si esto es así, si esto lo entiende todo el mundo, si en el fondo es verdad que ningún panorama de izquierdas puede construirse hoy sin la negación del mundo político y de la relación con la existencia que hemos heredado (“Si los problemas de nuestras sociedades son la mercantilización de cada rincón de nuestra existencia, la precariedad de nuestras condiciones de trabajo y de vida, la desconexión del entorno y de los otros, la privatización de la existencia y la competitividad como la racionalidad de la época, un programa político alternativo se arma, precisamente, con todas esas cosas que niegan esas lógicas”), ¿por qué entonces tanta resistencia y tanta mala fe cuando se habla de infrapolítica? (No de Monedero, por cierto, del que no sé si ha oído la expresión, sino más cercanamente.) La infrapolítica es el horizonte necesario del logro en política (contra el éxito derechista)–cuando el mundo se abre a algo otro que el conflicto y la división. Ninguna política sirve cuyo resultado no sea una expansión radical del ejercicio infrapolítico. Por lo mismo, una infrapolítica sin política no puede darse–solo cabe radicalizar la demanda política hacia un espacio no hegemonizado, hacia un espacio libre, que es el espacio infrapolítico. Pero esto será llamado, no ya desde la ignorancia, sino desde la terquedad resentida, conservadurismo eurocéntrico, anti-identitarismo, fascismo, pendejismo, o giro lingüístico. La ceguera es voluntaria y es también profundamente desilusionante–porque en ese rechazo ciego entre los que pueden oír y no oyen ni quieren oír se sintomatiza una radical falta de compromiso político con todo lo que importa, se sintomatiza solo el oportunismo de los ventrílocuos. ¿No es hora ya de mandar a paseo a esa falsa izquierda gesticulante? ¿Quién querría vivir en su mundo?

Infrapolitics. Bibliography in Progress. Draft. Prepared March 2017. By Alberto Moreiras

th-1(First Attempt–Incomplete and with Format Problems. Work in Progress. Additions or corrections can be proposed in Comments, and they will be incorporated.)

Alvarez Yagüez, Jorge. “Límites y potencia de dos categorías políticas: infrapolítica e impolítica.” Política Común 6 (2014)
—“Hegemonía, cultura y política.” En Poshegemonía. El final de un paradigma de la filosofía política en América Latina. Rodrigo Castro Orellana ed. Madrid, Biblioteca Nueva, 2015, pp. 67-92
—“Crisis epocal. La política en el límite”, Debats 3 (2015): 9-28
–“De la crítica de dos conceptos políticos: sujeto y acción”, Política Común 10 (2016)
–“Infrapolítica.” Enciclopedia Iberoamericana de filosofía, (forthcoming)

Baker, Peter. “(Post)Hegemony: Reflections on the Politics of the Present.” Política Común. 9. [Online]. <http://quod.lib.umich.edu/p/pc/&gt; 2017.

— “Hacia una crítica del terror: Inquisición y marranismo. Terror social y pensamiento.” ed. José Luis Villacañas. Madrid: Biblioteca Nueva [2017]

Cerrato, Maddalena. “Consensus, Sensus Communis, Community.” Politica Común, 10(2016).

—“Alberto Moreiras: desde la aporía auto/hetero-gráfica hacia posthegemonía e infrapolítica.” Papel Máquina, Santiago-Chile: Palinodia, 2016.

—-“Infrapolitics and Shibumi. Infrapolitical Practice between and beyond Metaphisical Closure and End of History” Transmodernity. 5.1 (2015): 79-103.

Moreiras, Alberto. Marranismo e inscripción, o el abandono de la conciencia desdichada. Madrid: Escolar y Mayo, 2016.

—. Línea de sombra. El no sujeto de lo político. Santiago de Chile: Palinodia, 2006. [English publication under contract with Duke University Press. Revised and Expanded Edition to be published in 2017-18.]

—. “Approssimazioni all’infrapolitica.” Maddalena Cerrato transl. Naples: Paparo [2017]

—“Piel de lobo. Ensayos de posthegemonía e infrapolítica.” Madrid: Biblioteca Nueva [2017]

—. “The Parergon for Parergonal Critique. On David R. Castillo and William Egginton’s Medialogies. Reading Reality in the Age of Inflationary Media. Brad Nelson ed. Hispanic Issues Online [2017].

—. “Cercanía contra comunidad: la errancia y el ojo de más.” In Pléyade [Santiago de Chile, 2017].

—. “Hacia una república marrana. Conversación entre Alberto Moreiras y José Luis Villacañas sobre Teología política imperial y comunidad de salvación cristiana, de José Luis Villacañas.” To be published in a volume of review-essays on said book. Madrid [2017]

—. “Idolatría e infrapolítica. Comentario a Teología política imperial y comunidad de salvación cristiana, de José Luis Villacañas.” To be published in a volume of review-essays on the book in the title. Madrid [2017]

—. “Against the Conspiracy. Revisiting Life’s Vertigo. On Roberto Esposito’s Terza persona and Da fuori. Una filosofia per l’Europa.” In Antonio Calcagno and Inna Viriasova eds. The Thought of Roberto Esposito. State University of New York Press [2017]

—. “The Ontic Determination of Politics Beyond Empiricism in Early Derrida.” Erin Graff Zivin ed. The Marrano Specter. Derrida and Hispanism. Fordham UP [2017].

—. “A Negation of the Anarchy Principle.” Política común [2017].

—. “Memory Heroics. Ethos Daimon.” Special Issue on Allegory edited by Jacques Lezra and Tara Mendiola. Yearbook of Comparative Literature [2017]

—. “Tres tesis sobre populismo y política. Hacia un populismo marrano.” Alfonso Galindo ed. Title to be decided. Madrid [2017]

—. “Distancia infrapolítica. Nota sobre el concepto de distancia en Felipe Martínez Marzoa.” En Arturo Leyte ed., La historia y la nada. En torno a Felipe Martínez Marzoa. Madrid: La oficina de arte y ediciones [2017].

—. “La diéresis del pensamiento como tonalidad patética: Nota sobre pensamiento/crítica en Willy Thayer, apoyada en Jacques Derrida y en Martin Heidegger y en Juan Benet.” Papel màquina [2017]

—. “La religión marrana y el secreto literario.” Angel Octavio Alvarez Solís ed. (Title to Be Decided). Mexico: Iberoamericana [2016]

—. “Derrida infrapolítico.” Pablo Lazo Briones ed. Etica y política. Mexico: Universidad Iberoamericana [2016].

—. “The Turn of Deconstruction.” Volume edited by Juan Poblete on LASA Culture and Power Panels, May 2014. Routledge [2017]

—. “Sobre populismo y política. Hacia un populismo marrano.” Política común 10 (2016): 1-15.

—. “Hispanism and the Border: On Infrapolitical Literature.” In Wilfried Raussert ed., The Routledge Companion to Inter-American Studies. London: Routledge, 2017. 197-206.

—. “La universidad es solo intemperie. Entrevista de Ivan Pinto a Alberto Moreiras.” El desconcierto (Santiago de Chile), May 4, 2016. 1-8. (Interview [I])

—. “Conversación en torno a Infrapolítica.” Interview. Questions from Alejandra Castillo, Jorge Alvarez Yagüez, Maddalena Cerrato, Sam Steinberg, Angel Antonio Alvarez Solís. Papel máquina (2016). (I)

—. “Infrapolítica—el proyecto.” Papel máquina 10 (2016): 55-66. (Refereed article [RA)

—. “Infrapolitical Action: The Truth of Democracy at the End of General Equivalence.” Davide Tarizzo ed. Política común 9 (2016). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/pc.12322227.0009.004 (RA)

—. “Posthegemonía, o más allá del principio del placer.” In Rodrigo Castro Orellana ed., Poshegemonía. El final de un paradigma de la filosofía política en América Latina. Madrid: Biblioteca Nueva, 2015. 125-46. (Book Chapter [BC])

—. “A Conversation with Alberto Moreiras Regarding the Notion of Infrapolitics.” (Alejandra Castillo, Jorge Alvarez Yágüez, Maddalena Cerrato, Sam Steinberg, Angel Antonio Alvarez Solís). Transmodernity 5.1 (2015): 142-58. (I)

—. “Infrapolítica y política de la infrapolítica.” Debats 128 (2015): 53-73. (RA)

—. “Introducción: Infrapolítica y posthegemonía. (Anhkibasie).” Debats 128 (2015): 6-8. (RA)

—. “Infrapolitics: the Project and Its Politics. Allegory and Denarrativization. A Note on Posthegemony.” Transmodernity 5.1 (2015): 9-35. (RA)

—. “Pasión de hospitalidad, pasión hospitalaria: relación encubierta. Comentario a “Después del euro. La Europa de la hospitalidad.” Res publica [2014] (RA)

—. “Das Schwindelgefuehl des Lebens. Roberto Esposito Terza persona.” Vittoria Borsó ed. Wissen und Leben. Wissen für das Leben. Herausforderungen einer affirmativen Biopolitik. Bielefeld: transcript, 2014. 115-39. (BC)

—. “Mi vida en Z. Ficción teórica. (De un profesor español en una universidad de Estados Unidos.)” http://www.fronterad.com/?q=mi-vida-en-z-ficcion-teorica-profesor-espanol-en-universidad-estados-unidos (Non-Refereed Article [NRA)

—. “Horacio Castellanos Moya and the Question of Cynicism.” Nonsite [2014]: 1-22. (Electronic publication.) (RA)

—. “Posthegemonía, o más allá del principio del placer.” Alter/nativas 1 (2013): 1-22.

—. “Keynes y el Katechon.” Anales de historia de la filosofia [Madrid] 30.1 (2013): 157-68.

—. “A Beggaring Description: The Republican Secret in Yo el Supremo, Together With Some Considerations on Symbolic Production and Radical Evil.” Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies 22.1 (2013): 71-87.

—. “The Fatality of (My) Subalternism: A Response to John Beverley.” New Centennial Review 12.2 (2012): 217-46.

—. “¿Puedo madrugarme a un narco? Posiciones críticas en LASA.” http://www.fronterad.com/?q=node/5697; Cuadernos de literatura 17.33 (junio 2013): 76-89.

—. “Common Political Democracy: The Marrano Register.” In Henry Sussman ed., Impasses of the Post-Global. Theory in the Era of Climate Change. Vol. 2. University of Michigan Libraries. http://www.openhumanitiespress.org, 2012. 175-193.

—. “Cujusdam negri & scabiosi Brasiliani. Las malas visitas. Ranciere y Derrida.” Cadernos de Estudos Culturais (Sao Paulo) 3.5 (2011): 9-25; Res publica 26.14 (2011): 29-46.

Muñoz, Gerardo. “Infrapolitica en tiempos posnacionales”. Review of Pablo Hupert’s El estado posnacional. Revista Consideraciones, Agosto 2014.

___. “Soberanía, acumulación, infrapolitica: intercambio con Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott”. Lobo Suelto, April 2015.

__. “Cinco hipótesis sobre Reiner Schürmann y el fin de la política principial”. Ficción de la razón, Marzo 2016.

___. “Writing in the Interregnum”. berfrois, June, 2016.

___. “Beyond Identity and the State. Introduction to dossier The End of the Latin American Progressive Cycle”. Alternautas, Vol. 3.1, July 2016.

___. “Epoca posuniversitaria e institución”. Universidad Posible. Raul Rodriguez Ed, 2016. Forthcoming. Print.

___.Infrapolitics, state, writing in Yo el Supremo”. Dissidences: Hispanic Journal of Theory and Criticism. Vol.13, Fall 2017. Forthcoming.

___. “Hegemon: communal form and total mobilization in Latin America”. Revista demarcaciones, 2017. Forthcoming.

___. “Poshegemonía, principios, y estado de derecho”. Pensamiento al margen, 2017.

___. “Interregnum and worldliness”. Review of Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott’s Heterografías de la violencia (La Cebra, 2016). Política Común, Vol.11. Forthcoming.

Rodríguez Matos, Jaime. “After the Ruin of Thinking: From Locationalism to Infrapolitics.” Transmodernity: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World 5.1 (2015): 1-8. Print.
____. “De lo que agujerea lo Real: Lacan, crítico de la (pos)hegemonía.” Debats 128.3 (2015): 29-40. Print.
____. “Del no-tiempo de la incertidumbre en Juan Luis Martínez.” Martínez Total. Eds. Biggs, Braulio Fernández and Marcelo Rioseco. Santiago: Editorial Universitaria, 2016. 191-207. Print.
____. “Introduction. After the Ruin of Thinking: From Locationalism to Infrapolitics.” TRANSMODERNITY: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World 5.1 (2015): 1-8. Print.
____. “Nihilism and the Deconstruction of Time: Notes toward Infrapolitics.” TRANSMODERNITY: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World 5.1 (2015): 36-51. Print.
____. “Notas sobre nihilismo: Lalo y el pensamiento en las consecuencias de Occidente.” Asedios a las textualidades de Eduardo Lalo. Ed. Sotomayor, Aurea María. Córdoba: Corregidor, forthcoming. Print.
____. Writing of the Formless: José Lezama Lima and the End of Time. New York: Fordham University Press, 2017. Print

Villalobos, Sergio. La desarticulación (Soberanías en suspenso 2). Forthcoming, 2018.
—. Heterografías de la violencia. Historia Nihilismo Destrucción. Buenos Aires, La Cebra, 2016.

—. “Palabra quebrada. Glosas en torno al fragmento escatológico-político de Guadalupe Santa Cruz.” Revista Iberoamericana, forthcoming 2017.
—. “Transferencia y articulación: la política de la retórica como economía del deseo.” Revista Pléyade, 16, Diciembre 2015: 69-92.
—. “El poema de la Universidad: nihilismo e infrapolítica.” TRANSMODERNITY: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World, 5.1, 2015.
—. “¿En qué se reconoce el pensamiento” Infrapolítica y posthegemonía en la época de la realización de la metafísica.” Debats, 128, 2015: 41-52.
—. “Oscar del Barco- la crítica del marxismo como técnica liberacionista.” Papel Máquina 9, Agosto 2015: 133-153.
—. “Para una política sin excepciones: el legado de Derrida.” Revista Caja Muda 7 (2014).
— “La deconstrucción, esa bestia soberana.” Derridasur, Pasto Colombia. Forthcoming 2017

—. “Equivalencia neoliberal e interrupción nómica: El conflicto de las facultades como contrato social.” La universidad posible. Santiago de Chile: Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación. Forthcoming 2017
—. “Dispositivo: historia e inmanencia.” Biopolítica y gubernamentalidad. Grupo de estudios de la guberanamentalidad, Universidad de Chile. Forthcoming2017
—. “Democracy and Development in the Latin American Pink Tide.” Alternautas/Journal of the University of Westminster, n 3, June-July, 2016.
—. “La anarquía como fin de la metafísica. Notas sobre Reiner Schürmann.” Machina et Subversio Machinae: 2016.

—. “Soberanía, imaginación y potencia del pensamiento. Un intercambio entre Rodrigo Karmy, Carlos Casanova y Gonzalo Díaz Letelier y Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott.” Demarcaciones. Revista latinoamericana de estudios althusserianos, 2015.
—. “Soberanía, acumulación, infrapolítica. Una entrevista a Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott.” Por Gerardo Muñoz y Pablo Domínguez Galbraith. Lobo suelto (14 de abril: 2015):
—. “La marea rosada latinoamericana: entre democracia y desarrollismo. Panoramas, University of Pittsburgh, 2014.

4 de marzo 2017