Infrareligion in the abyss: on Jaime Rodriguez Matos’ Writing of the Formless: José Lezama Lima and the End of Time. By Gerardo Muñoz.

writing-of-the-formless_2017Jaime Rodriguez Matos’ Writing of the Formless: José Lezama Lima and the End of Time (Fordham U Press, 2016) is an ambitious and truly mesmerizing mediation on the Cuban poet José Lezama Lima in light of contemporary theoretical debates concerning the status of the political in the wake of Modernity’s decline into nihilism. Rodriguez Matos’ sophisticated intervention attempts to accomplish several objectives at once, and in this sense, the book does not pretend to be an exegetical or philological contribution to scholarly debates on the poet. Rather, in the book, Lezama is taken as a poet-thinker of the informe, whose main import into Western history of writing and thought is that of a ‘writing of the formless’ (Rodriguez Matos 171). In its totality, the whole book is a groundwork for such a claim, and it works through a series of tropologies, figures, and debates that extend from Lezama’s specific cultural Cuban context and its readers, to a set of wider debates pertinent to Left-Heideggerianism, political theology, or the event (although by no means, is the complex set of debates reducible to these three philosophical indexes).

If one were to describe the project in its most far-reaching ends, Writing of the Formless is important yet for another reason: by handling several topologies of Lezama Lima’s oeuvre, we are offered an in-depth analysis of the intricate conceptual wager in infrapolitics, or in infrapolitical-deconstruction, which as Rodriguez Matos suggests, is the provenance of Lezama Lima’s contribution as a critical task. The book is divided in two parts. In the first one, four chapters grid an explication of the problem of time, as well as that of the formless, revolution, and nihilism. In the second, Rodriguez Matos engages in an innovative reading of different zones in Lezama Lima that evidence the destruction of principial politics, and the opening towards an (infra)politics of the void. In this review, I can hardly do justice to a book that I truly consider a masterwork of contemporary thought. In my opinion, this monograph comes as close as it gets to being flawless in establishing conceptual premises and argumentative deployment. In what follows I will map some provocative elements of his exposition, in hope that it will be a starting point for a discussion with those critically engaging Latin America, the political, and the stakes of thought in our time.

The point of departure of Writing of the Formless is the temporal question (in Latin America, although it is not localized here as a site of privilege) of Modernity, which is registered as a Janus face machine: on one end, the linear time of Hegel’s philosophy of history; and on the other, the teleological time of the messianic redemption and reservoir to many salvific political theologies. Early in the book, Rodriguez Matos sets up to establish the conditions that guide the development of his task:

“But it now it seems that in fact modernity, and not any possible redemption or liberation from its political and economic deadlocks, is itself a mixed temporality that is constantly battling between a circular and a linear time – a linear time of alienation and a circulation teleological time of redemption. The two need to be taken together, even in the very (im)possibility of such a synthesis. And this would mean that modernity is no longer the other of the revolutionary interruption of empty chronological time; rather, these are two sides of a single coin” (Rodriguez Matos 33).

By way of this dual apparatus of time, it becomes clear that linear time represents the time of alienation, where the eternal return marks its radical detachment only to become the engine of the theological messianic interruption. The two temporalities that frame Modernity, according to Rodriguez Matos, are a policing force, as well as “a residual effect or the symptom of the emergence of order itself” (Rodriguez Matos 22). And it is this formal legislation that synthesizes a duality that veil, in a variety of effective techniques, the formless of any foundation. Throughout the book the formless has different dispositions, such as the “intemporal”, “time of the absence of time”, or Lezama’s own “muerte del tiempo”. These all play key strategic functions and deconstructive relays. It might be the case, at least implicitly, that Rodriguez Matos knows that the history of metaphysics to cover up the void is, at the same time, the narrative produced by its apparatuses. What is important, however, is that by allocating these two times, Rodriguez Matos is able to set up what was otherwise obstructed: mainly, the time of void, which falls right beneath all principial politics, always in retreat and outside legitimizing messianic and developmental policity of Western modernity that governs both the time of the One and that of the multiple. Lezama is the figure that mobilizes a drift away from these two modalities:

“…beyond the politization of politics, and beyond the image of time as synthetic operation, what remains is the possibility of thinking with the poet beyond the current apparatus of academic-imperial) knowledge and all of its returns” (Rodriguez 25).

One would not exaggerate much in concluding that Lezama Lima as a thinker of the informe becomes the necessary antidote and hospitable dispensary against the philological exercises of the traditional belleletrism, but also of decolonial and neocommunist designs that, although attempting at the surface to break-away with imperial semblances, end up carrying the guise of principial politics as the highest flagpole for self-legitimation.

The reading of the informe allows us to move beyond the temporal dichotomy between revolution and conservation, messianic originalism (such as that of catholic, later convert post-socialist official poet Cintio Vitier), and the multiplicity of historical time (such as that endorsed by Rafael Rojas, Cuba’s most sophisticated neo-republican intellectual historian). It must be noted, however, that many other intellectuals and thinkers are tested on this basis. The common ground shared by diverse thinkers such as Rafael Rojas, Ernesto Laclau, Cintio Vitier, Walter Benjamin, Bruno Bosteels, Alain Badiou, and those that subscribe to post-foundationalism becomes clear: mainly, the assumption that the crisis of nihilism of temporality can be amended by always providing an adjustment for the abyss. In this way, Rodriguez Matos offers a frontal critique of any claim instantiated in hegemonic phantasms: “Our task remains to think time in all its radical complexity – that is, to think time as something other than a solution” (Rodriguez Matos 44). Writing of the Formless stands up to this deliverance.

There are many important elements that come forth in this argumentation, one of them being that the covering of the formless, or the lack of foundation, is usually articulated through a master and masterable political theology. It is not just Rodriguez Matos who arrives at this conclusion, but also Bruno Bosteels by way of observing the inscription of Christianity in many of contemporary thinkers of the Left. In a passage cited by Rodriguez Matos from Marx and Freud in Latin America, we read: “All these thinkers [Badiou, Negri, Zizek], in fact, remain deeply entangled in the political theology of Christianity – unable to illustrate the militant subject except through the figure of the saint” (Rodriguez Matos 44). It is even more perplexing then, that Bosteels’ own solution to this problem ends up being just more political theology by way of Leon Rozitchner’s reading of Saint Augustine, and merely exchanging the category of the saint for that of the militant subject, even though this is already part of the history of alienation of Christianity [1]. But the reason for this might be, as Rodriguez Matos thematizes a few pages later, that any predicament for politization as supreme value today needs to ascertain some sort of militant subject of the event in order to guarantee a consensus on “contemporaneity”, and in this way avoids what the present is or what it actually stands for (Rodriguez Matos 109).

The chapters 2 (“Sovereignties, Poetic, and Otherwise) and three (“The Mixed Times of the Revolution”) attend to how the question of time was conceived within the Cuban Revolution. This framing, one must first note, already dislocates the grounds of the discussion centered on the sovereign or the caudillo, a fetish so dear to both revolutionary and liberal imaginations when confronting the ‘Latinamericanist object’. Hence, in chapter two, Rodriguez Matos advances a demolishing reading of the temporality of foquismo, although not on the grounds that one could have imagined. From a historiographical standpoint, it is common to agree on the fact that that both Guevara and Debray’s formulations have little substance in historical experience, since they are theoretical fictions that develop to master a non-repeatable event (the Cuban Revolution), which was far from being successful solely because of the foco guerrillero in the first place. But this is not Rodriguez Matos’ critique. The argument is set up to make the claim that the Revolution, in order to become flesh and conceive the unity and sameness with the people, theory must be first discarded (Rodriguez Matos 60). Rather mysteriously, in foquismo it is the people that ‘act’, while Guevara becomes its narratological supplement. This is the inversion of the Leninist principle that alleged that in order for a revolution to materialize it needs a good theory beforehand.

Guevara, in Rodriguez Matos, takes the role of the anti-Lenin. In fact, in a strange way, Che appears as a sort of naturalist-philosopher: “…what Guevara is after is the same time that was at issue in Marti: the idealism of the Revolution has to become a force of nature, sprouting in the wind without being cultivated…in all its originary ontological stability, phusis) and the people, without the transubstantiation of the idea into flesh yielding intimate unity, and without this force of nature forging revolutionary ideology…this passage would be nothing but the declaration of one individual from Argentina who has recently landed in a foreign land…” (Rodriguez Matos 60). Guevara is a hopeless romantic, who recaps the Romantic ideal of the fragmented temporality in the pedagogical poem, only that for him the impolitical people are in a “time out of joint”. This is why they must also become a New Man. The catastrophe of foquismo, is thus not merely at the level of a massive historical evidence, but an afterfact of a metaphysics that is already one step away from thinking the void, while formalizing it through a dialectical moment. Rodriguez Matos stages the central problem, just after having glossed Guevara’s revolutionary thought:

“For the metaphysics in question already relies heavily on the form in which it makes multiple small narratives. For the metaphysics in question already relieves heavily on the form in which it makes multiple temporalities appears together. That is, modernity is fundamentally and internally committed to the constant confrontation of disparate forms of time. Instead, I suggest taking a closer look at the time of lost time, the time of the void, and what might happen when it is not filled in but, rather, allowed to resonate in all its formlessness.” (Rodriguez Matos 61).

How should we understand this echo? The turn to Celan and Heidegger’s immersion in noise and the ontological difference validates immediately any vacillation in the answer, since what is at stake is ultimately to think not the “standstill of all time” of the messianic force, but our being in time understood as our most basic and intimate relation that we have with time (Rodriguez Matos 70). It is only this absent time of the formless that will be one of majesty, capable of undoing sovereign authority and its governability over the singular.

The third chapter moves against the belief that Lezama Lima can be grasped in interested disputes regarding his intellectual provenance, political ideology, or assumed Catholicism (origenismo). This is an arduous task, but Rodriguez Matos makes it look easy through a threefold operation. First, Lezama is moved beyond the antinomies of secularization and aesthetics, placed in the proper site of the religion of the formless (we will come back to this). Secondly, Rodriguez Matos confronts Lezama’s own interpretation of the Revolution as parusia or Second Coming, which coincides perfectly with Guevara’s own model of the “ways things are” that folds revolutionary Cuba into globalization due an ingrained total administrate apparatus over life (Rodriguez Matos 93).

This entails that revolutions, if we take the Cuban experience as metonymic of the phenomenon, are always already biopolitical experiences, even though Rodriguez Matos does not frame it in such terms. Third, by understanding the ‘mixed’ temporality of communism and revolutionary politics as convergent with the temporality of capitalism, we come to understand that the second is always on reserve in the backdrop of the state and its institutions (Rodriguez Matos 96-97). In sum, the superposition of revolutionary times with the time of capital is here shown, once again, to be two sides of the same dual narrative of modernity that turns away from the abyss at the heart of politics. This complicates many, if not all, of the assumptions that Cuban transitologists have disputed with very futile outcomes, in my opinion, in the last decade.

Finally, the fourth chapter “Nihilism: Politics as the Highest Value” rightly places the question of nihilism at the center. This is a return to the question of political theologies discussed above. Whereas many of the thinkers on both sides, republicanist and communist alike, take up the question of nihilism, the result, according to Rodriguez Matos, is that it is presented as a fight against those that think the problem of nihilism. Thus, the “banality of nihilism must be dismissed or critiqued” (Rodriguez Matos 104). The operation rests on the fact that the question of being must be avoided at all costs. And this is achieved in at least two main forms: discarding nihilism by proposing a “multiplicity of times” (Rojas), or by proposing a “living philology” (Vitier, Bosteels) that would be able to restitute a truth of a text of the past to give proper political ground (Rodriguez Matos 115). Now the tables are turned, and those that seek to cover the void, as if that were an option, appear as agents of a true nihilistic force.

The second part of the book titled “Writing the Formless,” provides a roaming through Lezama’s conceptualization of the void against politico-theological closure, arriving at the unthought sites of the ontological difference after Heidegger and deconstruction, and moving into infrapolitics. This is an exemplary section in the sense that Rodriguez Matos warns that he is in no position to offer a transhistorical formal theory of Lezama’s writing, and in this way he calmly avoids the universitarian-Master demand for a totalizing expertise of lezamianos. This operation is undertaken not for the sake of confrontation against Lezama specialists, but rather due to a more modest motive: it is not the point that drives Writing of the Formless. Anyone to counter argue on this level is rather to sidestep its most important contribution of this book. Finally, Rodriguez Matos lays out what is at stake, which is tailored as a question that by far exceeds Lezama Lima as a single corpus:

“Ultimately what is at issue whether there is a difference between those texts of the Western tradition that forget the question of being and those whose starting point is the challenge and the difficulty that the question poses, the challenge and the resistance involved in dealing with the ground that is and is not there in its absence. What is at stake is whether or not it is possible to imagine a writing and a thought that do not simply fall silent in order to guarantee the continuity of the narrative of legitimacy and sovereign authority in the poem or in politics – but the link between these two is also at issue here. That is, whether or not it is possible for posthegemonic infrapolitics to be something other than the trace of politics” (Rodriguez Matos 136).

What immediately follows is a series of closely knit constellations of the writing of the formless as absent time in Lezama, which I can only register here without much commentary: Lezama’s own critique of T.S. Eliot’s notion of the difficult, a critique of Garcia Marruz’s reading of the aposiopesis as rhetoric’s hegemonic property, Lezama’s understanding of Aristotelian metaphoricity; Lezama’s philosophy of an atopical One, and finally Rodriguez Matos’ own conceptual position of Lezama as an infrareligious and infrapolitical figure that pushes politico-theological legislation of principles to their very limit into a ‘nonsynthesizable reminder’ [sic] (Rodriguez Matos 154). Further, Lezama’s vitalist response to the Platonist pros hen, unlike the immanentist modern reversal, concludes in a Platonist affirmation instead of an overcoming of Platonism (Rodriguez Matos 139). Rodriguez Matos intelligently resolves this bizarre multiplicity vis-à-vis a parallel reading of Paul Claudel, who rejects aposteriori knowledge in exchange for the cognizant objectification of God before the sovereignty of the Poet. Although I am left thinking about the status of Neo-Platonism as it relates to the discussion of Christian Trinitarian thought [2].

But Rodriguez Matos goes further, and the Lezama that emerges from this destructive multi-level procedure is one that resists alleogrization, taking cue from Alberto Moreiras’ pioneering reading in Tercer Espacio (1999), as well as a privileged and secured position of a profane materialism over the question of form. And it is also in this very instance where Rodriguez Matos opens up to a complicated debate, which although unresolved, is the most striking and illuminating kernel of his book. In short: does ‘the roaming of the formless’ [sic] in Lezama offer something other than a trace of politics? I want to suggest, from my first reading of what is certainly a complex conversation, that this remains unresolved in Writing of the Formless. Let’s consider a key moment at the end of the book:

“For part of what I am calling attention to is the fact the staging of the formless in Lezama involves a thematization and an awareness of what should only be there as trace. This awareness goes beyond a more familiar claim regarding the self-deconstruction of discourses of their own accord – this is, after all, also what the trace is supposed to underscore. I would like to read this excess of awareness as a radicalization of deconstruction” (Rodriguez Matos 176).

This radicalization will entail leaving behind the moment of ecriture, which characterized the first wave of deconstruction in literary fixation and textual playfulness. Infrapolitics will be, programmatically speaking, post-deconstruction, or what Moreiras has recently called a second turn towards instituted deconstruction [3]. But the question remains: is infrapolitics then, a trace of politics? It is an unresolved question, but perhaps the most important one. Rodriguez Matos leaves us a clue at the very end of the book. When discussing the baroque – and let’s not lose sight of the fact of how late the question arrives, which is a merit and not a pitfall – Rodriguez Matos cites a letter of Lezama to Carlos Meneses: “I think that by now the baroque has begun to give off a stench” (Rodriguez Matos 181). The Baroque has come become an exchangeable token for the Boom, the last stage of identitarian transaction. But it is more than this: the baroque can no longer account for the informe at the heart of the image and rhythm.

Let’s probe this further. If the baroque is now exhausted, it is because all politics of the frame are insufficient to cope with the formless. The primacy of the critique of political economy today, for example, remains just one of its last formal avatars. But one could also respond to Rodriguez Matos’ final invitation, and say that while the aesthetic program of the baroque is demolished or turned into ashes, perhaps a trace of it remains in posthegemonic politics. To the extent that we understand the baroque as a political of self-affirmation against Imperium beyond hegemony, the baroque necessarily entails a republicanist politics [4].

In other words, while the infrareligious trace depends on the abyss, posthegemonic politics of republicanism sprouts from the baroque in early modernity against any imperial and counter-imperial conversions. Rodriguez Matos interchangeably speaks of infrapolitics and posthegemony throughout the book, therefore this nuance could be taken as a radicalization of the second term in line with the disclosure regarding the baroque. Post-deconstructive infrapolitics remains open. But if Lezama’s legacy is waged on having confronted the formless abyss of the absent time; perhaps, the author of Dador can also reemerge as a political thinker and existential representative not of Paradise, but of the secret Republic. This will entail a republicanism that, in each and every single time, does not longer participate in the eternal arcanum.






  1. This does not mean that St. Augustine cannot be read against the myth of political theology. Such is the task that José Luis Villacañas has accomplished in his Teología Political Imperial: una genealogía de la division de poderes (Trotta, 2016). In my view, Rozitchner’s La Cosa y la Cruz (1997) is a flagrant misreading of Augustinian anti-political-theology in exchange for a superficial materialist affective analysis. Although I do not have space to discuss this at length, I must note that Rodriguez Matos’ discussion of contemporary materialisms is also a timely warning about the easy exists that the so-called “materialisms” offer today as an effective transaction in contemporary thought. For his discussion of materialism see, pgs. 104-108.
  1. The question of Neo-Platonism is a fascinating story by itself, which speaks about the multiple in the One. Pierre Hadot studied its influenced in debates of early Trinitarian thought in his work of Marius Victorinus; recherches sur sa vie et ses œuvres (Paris: Etudes augustiniennes, 1971). Now, it seems that Lezama Lima himself was not foreign to Plotinus and Neoplatonism, which he linked it to the emergence of the modern poem. In fact, while reading Writing of the Formless, I revisited my copy of Lezama Lima’s unpublished notes in La Posibilidad Infinita: Archivo de José Lezama Lima, ed. Iván González Cruz (Verbum Editorial 2000). It was interesting to find that in “Oscura vencida”, a fragment from 1958, Lezama writes: “Si unimos a Guido Cavalcanti, March, Maurice Sceve, John Donne, en lo que puede ser motejados de oscuros, con distintos grados de densidad, precisamos que sus lectores, puede ser los más distinguidos cortesanos, o estudiantes que versifican cuando la hija del tabernero inaugura unos zarbillos…Con una apresurada lectura de la Metafísica de Aristóteles, sobre todo su genial concepto del tiempo que pasa a Hegel (sic) y a Heidegger; con cuatro diálogos platónicos, donde desde luego no faltara el Parménides. Con algunas añadiduras de Plotino sobre la sustancia y el uno…ya está el afanoso de la voluptuosos métrica en placentera potencialidad para saborear una canción medieval, un soneto del renacimiento florentino, o una ingenua aglomeración escolástica que se quiere sensibilizar, o una súmala de saber infantil, regida por un pulso que no se abandonó a la plácida oficiosa…” (252). This does not necessarily dodge Rodriguez Matos’ discussion of Claudel, but complicates it, since the trinity also merges at different points throughout the book. My question is whether any discussion of Trinitarian co-substantialism is still embedded in metaphysical structuration as potentia absoluta, or if Lezama’s informe is a Parthian attack against this influential model of absolute potentiality by turning it into a monstrous infrareligion. At stake here is also the issue of ‘reversibility’ that is obliquely exposed at the end of the book (Rodriguez Matos 189).
  1. See Alberto Moreiras, “Comentario a Glas, de Jacques Derrida”.
  1. The question of the republicanist politics, Imperium, and the baroque is studied in detailed in Ángel Octavio Álvarez Solis’ La República de la Melancolía: Politica y Subjetividad en el Barroco (La Cebra, 2015).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

A reply to Steve Buttes on infrapolitics. (Gerardo Muñoz)

Chillida 1970

Steve Buttes’ “Some questions for infrapolitics” is an intelligent and generous effort that engages with several key problems at the heart of the ongoing collective project of ‘Infrapolitical Deconstruction’. Although, it begs to say that Moreiras’ works – from the early Interpretación y Diferencia (1991) to Línea de sombra (2006), have been central to thinking de-narrativization and the critique of metaphoricity, bringing these problems into new light from different registers (the literary, the cultural, and the political), I think it would be incorrect to frame the particular project of infrapolitics as a culmination of Moreiras’ own thought and itinerary. In this light, what I find of importance in Buttes’ intervention is the fact that he does not just hinge on a particular problem, but is able to juggle and render visible a series of common elements of the project that merge with his own research (1).

Indeed, it was unfortunate to have missed Prof. Buttes at the last formal meeting during the Harvard ACLA 2016 conference, but we could only hope that there will be another timely encounter for discussion. For what it is worth, I want to lay down a few commentaries on some issues raised by Buttes. My aim is not to correct or even less defend a programmatic way of infrapolitics, but perhaps to think about his recent inquiry as parallel with some of the problems that have been pertinent to my own intellectual reflection over the last two or so years. I hope this will serve as a reparatory outline for future discussions to come.

In a precise moment of his commentary, Buttes writes: “That which escapes regulation, visibilization through the metaphors chosen to organize the world—the unthought thought, that which “what was never [on the] radar” (“Some comments”), freedoms that remain beyond writing (Williams, The Mexican Exception), the unfinished manuscript (Cometa, “Non-finito”), averroist intellect (Muñoz “Esse extraneum”) and so on—always remains invisible, and as a consequence always emerges as something that looks like the thing it is: real life beyond calculation, beyond visibilization, beyond metaphoric capture. In other words, it is the image, as Dove has called it. This image, of course, is characterized by its invisibility, by its ability to be sensed but not seen, experienced but not known, used but not valued”.

I am entirely in disagreement that infrapolitics could be thought as invisibility in opposition to visibility, since that opposition itself remains caught in calculation that renders the operation of unconcealment and the existential analytic obsolete. The very idea of the averroist intellectual has nothing to do specifically with the image as such, but with metaxy (or metaxu as rendered by Weil’s anti-personalist Platonism). This is why life as pure means constitutes itself impersonally from the outside. Hence, to reduce the question of the image to a division of the senses (sight) or to the disciplinary arrangement made possible by modern art historical discourse (Fried et al) is interesting, but not relevant, at least not for averroism. It is true, however, that averroism is crucial for infrapolitics. To some extent averroism, like the existential analytic or marranismo, is an important referent for infrapolitical existence and posthegemonic democracy.

א In her important research on the saturated image, Camila Moreiras Vilaros has emphasized the transformative nature of images from a regime of the society of control to one of saturation and exposure. If the first still has a mode of coercion over bodies and subjects, the second one is hyperbolically without subject, substance, and extension. Exposure coincides fully with the image of the world in positionality. In this sense, infrapolitics fundamentally thinks not the invisible, but the invisible as already fully visible. To be marrano in the open means to dwell in the event of total exposure.

Weil, Esposito, Coccia, Agamben, or Moreiras are thinkers of this outside as metaxy, although do not particularly wish to install an “invisible iconology”, or “an icon of potentiality over actuality”. I am convinced that the question of iconology features centrally in Prof. Buttes’ research, but from my own understanding, infrapolitics cannot be separated from an actuality granted by a form of life or the second division of existence that renders inoperative the very distinction of actuality and potentiality. In fact, in recent months some of us have understood the importance of undertaking Heidegger’s influential seminar Aristotle Metaphysics 1-3: the actuality over force, as to cautiously rethink the difficulty of the Aristotelian category (actuality) that is at stake here. In terms of the icon, in my own research project I have thought of another relation with pictorial space that is not possessed by iconicity, which allows possible oikonomical arrangement and sacrament institution [2]. I would say that, indeed, landscape is important for infrapolitics, but far from rendering a dichotomy between the visible and the invisible, the expropriated and the appropriated, it seeks to think distance and dwelling.

א It was something like this that was at stake for Heidegger in one of his rare essays written as a general reflection on art, but specifically meant as a commentary on a Spanish sculptor that he very much admired: Eduardo Chillida. In Die Kunst und der Raum (1969), Heidegger writes: “Solange wir das Eigentümliche des Raumes nicht erfahren, bleibt auch die Rede von einem kunst-lyrischen raum dunkel. Die weise, wie der Raum das Kunstwerk durchwaltet, hangt vorerst im Un-bestimmten.” Before the pictorial space there is the question of space. How to account for the peculiarity of space? That was Heidegger’s question, since spacing meant to ‘erbringt’ (don) freedom and the life (wohnen) for da-sein.

The word “value” appears in different ways about seven or eight times in Buttes’ piece. I am not sure I can take up the different ways in which it appears, at times in opposition to use. However, it is clear that infrapolitics does not seek to value any ontic or ontological position, since it departs necessarily from a critique of the principle of general equivalence as the contemporary determination of nihilism (an argument made forcefully, I think, by Moreiras, Villalobos-Ruminott, & J. L. Nancy). Thus, it is inconsistent with infrapolitics to argue that “infrapolitics, creates […] a fetish—“a form of thinking the political that fetishizes the undoing of power as a value in itself”. Undoing power arrives at the non-subject or post-hegemony as democratic condition for social existence. But how is this “value” or instrumentalized for “value itself”? In some cases, Buttes seems to take value for ‘preference’. Infrapolitics does not make that decision for preference’s sake, but for understanding the non-correspondence between life and politics in thought.

א The question of value tied to the problem of ‘poverty’ and ‘exploitation’ is a register that infrapolitics does not take for granted. However, I am convinced that the pursuit of a new jargon of exploitation today is always in detriment of the possibility of understanding the existence of man otherwise. It is a very strange turn that some today on the Left– take Daniel Zamora, who fundamentally misinterprets Foucault’s work – keep insisting on the question about the necessity to reintroduce proletarian identity as determinate subject against diversity. It makes no sense to do this in a time like ours, where work and labor have completely disappeared. I prefer to discuss inclusive consumption (Valeriano) and uneven pattern of accumulation (Williams), not labor and exploitation.

In one of his footnotes, Buttes claims that “infrapolitics spans writers from Javier Marías, to Borges, to Lezama Lima to Cormac McCarthy to, as I note below, Ben Lener, and also, plausibly, Sergio Chejfec or Alberto Fuguet, then infrapolitics is the canon, it is the archive itself”. It is a surprising remark, but I understand that I might not fully understand its implications. Does it entail that infrapolitics is an archive of a particular style, or that it coincides merely with a work-for-the-archive? I agree with Moreiras that infrapolitics is a type of relation with the archive, and in fact, at the moment the collective is currently thinking through the archive in relation to the general historiography of the imperial Hispanist tradition [3]. Does this mean that infrapolitics is merely a relation with Hispanism and the Spanish letters? I am not convinced. I do think that there is intricate relation between writing and infrapolitics, but it could be extended and explored in other forms of art (painting, music, cinema, or even dance). Most of us work on writers such as Roa Bastos or Raul Ruiz, Lezama Lima or Oscar Martinez, Juan Rulfo or Roberto Bolaño; but these proper names are far from constituting an infrapolitical archive. There can never be an archival infrapolitics.

א In a recent intervention on the subject of infrapolitics, Michele Cometa suggested that infrapolitics was indeed the place to use literature as a thing for thought [4]. The modern invention of university disciplines and faculties, archives and practices such as “literary criticism” is a perversion of an an-archic space of unity where there is no differentiation between literature and thought, the image and life. One has to break away from the modernist fantasy that there is a ‘proper location’ for an object of studies. There are only relations of force constituted by tradition. This is why Dante at the dawn of Modernity, and later Leopardi during the bourgeoisie revolution, could see themselves as poets, thinkers, political theorists, and lovers. There was no separation.





*Image: Eduardo Chillida, drawing, 1970.

1. Buttes, Steve. “Some questions for infrapolitics”.

2. Mondzain’s research is fundamental here, since her work on early Byzantine Church’s articulation of hegemony is intimately tied to the operation of iconology. See, Image, Icon, Economy: The Byzantine Origins of the Contemporary Imaginary. Stanford University Press, 2004.

3. Alberto Moreiras. “A response to Steve Buttes”.


Potencia y deconstrucción. (Gerardo Muñoz)

Attell Agamben 2014Sobre Kevin Attell. Giorgio Agamben, beyond the threshold of deconstruction. New York: Fordham, 2014.

Kevin Attell, quien es también traductor al inglés de varios libros de Giorgio Agamben (The Open 2004, State of Exception 2005, The Signature of all things 2010), ha realizado un gran esfuerzo en su reciente Giorgio Agamben: Beyond the Threshold of Deconstruction (Fordham, 2014) por pensar la obra del italiano a la mano de la llamada “deconstrucción”. De hecho, en las primeras páginas del libro Attell lanza una premisa que articula y organiza el argumento: a saber, que desde su comienzo en la década del sesenta, Agamben no ha hecho otra cosa que medirse en relación con el trabajo de Derrida [1]. Esto pudiera ser más o menos obvio para los trabajan con la obra del italiano, aunque menos obvia es la forma en que Attell desplegará un vínculo – casi pudiéramos llamarlo un “dossier esotérico”, que atraviesa toda la obra filosófica antes y después de Homo Sacer – y muy sensible al desarrollo analítico de la deconstrucción, en donde está en juego no solo la disputa por el nombre de “Heidegger”, sino también una querella por terrenos comunes como la semiología, el judaísmo, o el marxismo.

Pero Attell no se detiene en un movimiento unilateral, sino que lo combina con la operación en reverso, mostrando cómo una vez que la obra de Agamben va generando una relevancia central en su intervención, Derrida va tomando en cuenta preguntas en torno a la biopolitica, la animalidad, o la soberanía como se hace manifiesto en los últimos seminarios sobre la bestia o la pena de muerte. De ahí que donde mayor “efectividad” concentra el plan analítico de Attell, es también el lugar donde encontramos su límite. En la medida en que el pensamiento de Agamben queda atravesado por una “polémica esotérica” con la deconstrucción, esta operación se ve obligada a reducir la analítica a una continua oposición de ambos lados; un pliegue dual de tópicos y conceptos fundamentales del pensamiento de Agamben que quizás no encuentran ensalzarse con “efectividad” en la querella de la deconstrucción (es así que Attell descuida por completo Il regno e la gloria, así como la pregunta por el método tan central en Agamben desde la publicación de Estancias).

Pero sobre estos límites y otros, volveremos hacia la última parte de nuestro comentario. Basta con decir, de entrada, que el libro de Attell, muy a diferencia de otras introducciones tales como Giorgio Agamben: A Critical Introduction (de la Durantaye, 2009), o Agamben and politics: a critical Introduction (Prozorov, 2014), es mucho más que una repaso introductorio a un aparato de pensamiento. Ni tampoco se asume como una “reconstrucción de un debate intelectual”, a la manera de la escuela de la historia de las ideas, sino que muestra los núcleos centrales de la que quizás siga siendo la disputa más importante en los últimos años, y cuya consecuencia para el campo de la política y el pensamiento no son menores.

Los dos primeros capítulos “Agamben and Derrida Read Saussure” y “The Human Voice” trazan el desacuerdo entre ambas parte por el estatuto del logos y la naturaleza general de la significación como presencia y principio general de la metafísica occidental. Hay varios elementos en juego, de los cuales no nos podríamos ocupar en el espacio de esta reflexión y que Attell reconstruye en una minuciosa lectura de Saussure de ambos pensadores. Lo central se ubica en torno a la significación general y su aporia en el interior del proyecto de la deconstrucción relativo a desmontar la jerarquía entre escritura y palabra que modula la matriz metafísica de la presencia. Citando varios momentos del temprano Estancias y del tardío Il tempo che resta, Attell explicita la coherencia de la crítica de Agamben en cuanto a la deconstrucción: al intentar “destruir” o “deconstruir” la metafísica epocal, Derrida mantiene una postura de defferal indefinido que si bien ha logrado explicitar el problema central, es incapaz de traspasar ese impasse.

A partir de una relectura de los cuadernos de Saussure- y aquí estaría en juego también la pregunta por la “filología” que Agamben eleva a un nivel de exigencia filosófica – el autor de Estado de excepción argumenta que la deconstrucción asume la saturación irreducible del signo (o del texto), ignorando la propia inestabilidad al interior de la armadura conceptual del lingüista. Por otro lado, para Agamben tampoco se trata de una cuestión meramente filológica en cuanto a los cuadernos últimos de Saussure (que meramente apuntaría a una ignorancia vulgar por parte de Derrida), sino más bien de una asimilación más profunda en cuanto al problema de la significación. Mientras que el modelo lingüístico de la deconstrucción asume una “codificación edipal del lenguaje”, Agamben se posiciona en la fractura del propio “experimento del lenguaje” en tanto problema topológico más allá de la división dicotómica entre significado y significante. Como explica Attell:

“For Agamben, the disjuncture between “S” and “s” is not itself the nonorgionary origin, or the “producer” of signification, but the index of that originary “topological” problem of signification , which remains to be thought – and thought precisely on terrain other than of the semiotic logic of the signifier and the trace….Thus, in response to Derrida deconstruction of the metaphysical logic of the sign, Agamben claims that “To isolate the notion of the sign, understood as positive unity of signans and signatum, form the original and problem Saussurian position on the linguistic fact as a ‘plexus of eternally negative different’ is to push the science of signs back into metaphysics” [3].

Aquí se enuncian varios problemas centrales, que luego derivan en la morfología topológica de la inclusión-exclusión propia de la categoría de excepción soberana, pero también la posibilidad de pensar la metafísica como un problema que excede la matriz semiológica para la cual la deconstrucción sería insuficiente. De ahí, entonces la recopilación de figuras como el “gesto” o la “infancia”, el “silencio” o el “poema”, como lugares que sitúan catacreticamente una archi-escritura en la dicotomía estructural de la presencia, y abriéndose hacia una laguna o caída del lenguaje en el hombre y del hombre en la lengua. Dicho de otra forma más acotada: mientras que la deconstrucción entiende el problema del Ser como presencia que se asume obliterando la condición de ausencia, para Agamben el problema principial de la metafísica es la falta constitutiva signada en la Voz en el devenir de lo humano.

Como sugiere Attell, aquí la discrepancia entre ambos filósofos no podría ser mayor, puesto que si para Derrida la metafísica es reducible a la presencia (“fonocentrismo”) para Agamben es la negatividad entendida como Voz; sitio donde la metafísica estructura no solo su antropología (el pasaje de la animalitas a la humanitas), sino la producción del lenguaje como aparato de subjetivización y división de “vida” en tanto negatividad. En un momento clave Attell resume la aporia que la deconstrucción no pudo asumir al situarse en la gramma como oposición al phone:

“To identify the horizon of metaphysics simply in that supremacy of the phone and then to believe in one’s power to overcome this horizon through the gramma, is to connive of metaphysics without its coexistent negativity. Metaphysics is already grammatology and this is fundamentology in the sense that the gramma (or the Voice) functions as the negative ontological foundation]…In this passage Agamben recasts the Derridean critique of phonocentraism by reading the phone of metaphysics….The Voice thus emerge not as a presence, but precisely as the original negative foundation of metaphysics. It is not the negative breach within the hegemonic metaphysics of presence, but rather the very ground of the hegemonic metaphysics of negativity” [4].

El trabajo posterior de Agamben desarrolla una respuesta al problema de la negatividad como fundamentación ontológica de la metafísica. En este sentido, el concepto de potencia (dunamis / adunamis) pasa a ser central en todo el desenvolvimiento del pensamiento de que descoloca la oposición phone / gramma del territorio de la semiología, y devuelve la saturación metafísica hacia un problema primario de la filosofía desde Aristóteles hasta Heidegger. De esta manera, Agamben construye lo que Attell se aventura a llamar una “potenciologia“, donde la cuestión obviamente no es dicotomizar una vez más dunamis vs. energeia, sino mostrar como en el libro Theta de la Metafísica de Aristóteles encontramos algo así como una valencia en donde la dunamis (potencia) no solo no conlleva a la energeia (la realización o actualización), sino que escapa la negatividad al inscribirse como modalidad de “impotencia” (potencia). Este segundo registro es realmente lo que signa el “gesto” fundamental de Agamben, puesto que de esta manera pareciera afirmarse una forma que no opera a partir de la negatividad (dunamis no es energeia, pero la adunamia es dunamis sin realización, esto es, como puro acto que acontece). En uno de los momentos de mayor claridad expositiva del capítulo 3, Attell nos dice:

“At stake in Agamben’s impotential reading is his broader critique of the primacy of actuality in the philosophical tradition, which we already saw an element of his more or less heideggerian affirmation of potentiality over actuality….for Agamben, in energeia, it is not only potentiality but also and above all impotentiality that as such passes wholly over into act, and if this the case, then actuality must be seen not as the condition of impotential and the fulfillment of potentiality, but rather as the precipitate of the self-suspension of impotentiality, which produces he act in the far more obscure mode of privation or steresis. It produces the at not in the fusion of a positive or negative ground, but in a paradoxical structure of privation that is not negation” [5].

La adunamis como impotencia no es una mera negación de la potencia, sino algo así como su devenir en donde forma y acto coinciden sin la negación de una estructura principial (en el sentido en que Reiner Schurmann discute arche y telos en función del cálculo y la exploración de la causalidad y la praxis desde Aristóteles) [6]. La [im]potencia es, como lo ejemplifica el ensayo sobre “el contemporáneo”, la im-potencia-de-no-ver en la oscuridad, donde no es que estemos no viendo (privados de la luz), sino que vemos al ver la oscuridad [7].

Esta apuesta que pareciera meramente filológica en lo que respecta a la obra de Aristóteles, le permite a Agamben hacer varios movimientos a la vez, de los cuales podríamos enumerar sin querer ser exhaustivos al menos cuatro:

  1. encontrar una salida de la “máquina semiológica” mostrando que la “represión cuasi-originaria” de la metafísica no es la supresión de la gramma, sino de la potencia que es también des-obra inoperante de la ontología. Este espacio es determinado por una lectura de Aristóteles a contrapelo de la deconstrucción, y volviendo al Heidegger de la dunamis y la pregunta por lo “animal”. Aquí pudiéramos decir que Agamben insemina la filosofía desde dentro (y no desde la lengua o la literatura, aunque como bien señala Attell esto desde ya genera la pregunta por el “apego filosófico” de Agamben. Este debate en torno a la “anti-filosofía” requeriría muchísima más atención).
  1. Al ampliar el campo general de referencia de la crítica de la metafísica (de un modo análogo como lo hizo con la “Voz”) ahora sitúa la gramma en subordinación a la potencia. Es aquí que cobra sentido la frase que Agamben recoge de Cassiodorus, quien nos dice: “Aristóteles mojó su pluma en el pensamiento”. El acontecer de la (im)potencia como intelecto es condición de inscribir de la gramma. De modo que el gesto de Agamben es ampliar el marco de problematización, y ver que el problema de la escritura en Derrida no es negado, sino recogido al interior del espacio de la potencia.
  1. Agamben de esta manea sitúa la imaginación al centro de un debate por “salvar la razón” (pregunta que también es central para el último Derrida). De ahí la importancia del averroísmo, así como cierto interés en la teoría de la imagen que recorre la virtualidad y el montaje en los libros de cine de Deleuze, centrales para el desarrollo de la teoría del mesianismo de Agamben en el libro de San Pablo.
  1. Pudiéramos decir que la potencia es lo clave en virtud de que abre una zona topológica para comprender el movimiento inclusivo-exclusivo de la soberanía, dejando atrás la dicotomía “poder constituido / poder constituyente” de Negri que, vista de esta forma, no sería más que la reificación onto-teologica que reproduce la metafísica de una nueva soberanía política.

Los próximos dos capítulos en torno a la lógica de la soberanía y la animalidad, Attell recorre el intercambio y desencuentro entre ambos pensadores. Por un lado, la pobre distinción que Derrida atiende entre zoe y bios en el pensamiento de Agamben, pero también el poco cuidado que Agamben le otorga la espectralidad como forma potencial de la naturaleza policial de una democracia arruinada por la estructura principial de autoridad. Asimismo, es sumamente productivo notar una serie de matices que introduce Attell para comenzar a pensar la crucial división del homo sacer en Agamben: primero que la zoe no está plegada a una “zona natural” de la vida “animal”, sino que conforma un duplo, junto a la bios, de una misma máquina biopolitica. Segundo, que no hay anfibología alguna entre biopolitica y política, sino toda una biopolitica estructural que recorre las épocas de la historia de la metafísica desde Aristóteles como arcanum de la consumación nihilista de la política. Y finalmente, la inserción de la “máquina antropológica” en cuanto a la división taxonómica de la vida animal y la vida humana que explicitan, quizás mejor que cualquier otro aparato de la metafísica, la estructura del aban-donamiento continuo de la vida ante un cierto principio aleatorio epocal.

Todo esto complica y problematiza la propia noción de “potencia”, ya que podemos ver de esta manera que el funcionamiento de la soberanía no es, en modo alguna, el poder de decisión a la manera del soberano schmittiano, sino más bien el lugar en donde se explota la negatividad (o la potencia) que ha sido asumida desde siempre en función de la actualización, o sea como realización de un orden establecido fáctico de la esfera del derecho. El pasaje se establece de la soberanía política estatal de Hobbes a la indecisión barroca de Shakespeare y el teatro barroco alemán que estudiase Walter Benjamin.

Aunque varios son los ejemplos que podrían aclarar la diferencia entre Agamben y Derrida en cuanto a la naturaleza del derecho, el ejemplo de la alegoría de “Ante la ley” de Kafka es quizás central, ya que si para el autor de Gramatología, estar ante la ley demuestra la asimetría diferida que explicita el no-origen o el juego de la différance de la ley, para el autor de Estado de excepción, la parábola de Kafka es el ejemplo de la estructura misma del “abandono” (ban, siguiendo el término de Jean Luc Nancy que Attell señala) en su función topológica de exclusión-inclusiva. Esa es la forma en que la potencia de la soberanía ejecuta su decisión, aun cuando sea en modalidad pasiva, aunque regulada dentro del aparato de la jurisdicción. Es así que, como bien señala Attell, mientras que para la deconstrucción se trata de mostrar una serie de aporías de un mecanismo “ilegitimo” de la Ley en su continua contaminación; para Agamben quien sigue muy de cerca la lección de Schmitt, todo principio rector de legitimidad tiene como estructura una forma de exacerbada división interna. Pero es quizás en la lectura sobre Walter Benjamin y su “Crítica de la violencia”, donde Attell mejor inscribe el desacuerdo de Agamben y Derrida en cuanto a la naturaleza dual de la soberanía. Ya que el método de Derrida es mostrar la promiscuidad entre violencia “fundadora de derecho” y violencia “conservadora de derecho”, y la noción de “violencia pura” o “divina” como una violencia sin fin capaz de desarticular la operación fáctica de la esfera del derecho (a la que interpreta bajo el signo de “origen”). Para Agamben la violencia pura de Benjamin es una zona que asegura una salida entre las dicotomías de poder constituyente y constituido, entre legalidad y legitimidad, entre energeia y dunamis. La “violencia divina” es aquí otro nombre para la impotencia (adunamis).

La tensión en el diferendo “potencia / deconstrucción” encuentra su grado de mayor tensión en el último capítulo sobre el mesianismo, donde Attell muestra cómo para Agamben el proyecto de Derrida no solo ha quedado límite en sus autolimitaciones metafísicas ya aludidas, sino que también encarna un falso mesías que apenas ha sustituido la noción schmittiana de katechon por différance. La lógica es la siguiente: si el katechon para Schmitt es aquello que frena y difiere el tiempo del fin; la différance en su postergación a venir no es posibilidad “mesiánica” real (del tiempo del ahora, ya ocurriendo, para decirlo en términos de la modalidad del tiempo operacional), sino un “falso profeta” en la culminación de la metafísica. En uno de los pasajes más duros de Agamben contra Derrida, Attell escribe:

“Agamben’s virtual charge here is the harshest that can be leveled: that Derrida, or rather deconstruction (there is nothing personal in any of this), is the false Messiah. The “elsewhere” to which Thurschwell refers here is the 1992 essay “The Messiah and the Sovereign: The Problem of Law in Walter Benjamin,” where Agamben characterizes deconstruction as a “petrified or paralyzed messianism that, like all messianism, nullifies the law, but then maintains it as the Nothing of Revelation in a perpetual and interminable state of exception, ‘the “state of exception” in which we live…[…] Schmitt’s katechonitic time is a thwarted messianism: but is thwarted messianism shows itself to be the theological paradigm of the time in which we live, the structure of which is none other than the Derridean différance. Christian eschatology had introduced sense and a direction in time: katechon and différance, suspension delaying this sense, render it undecidable” [8].

Aunque injustamente agresiva, queda claro que la movida conceptual de Agamben es mostrar como tanto Schmitt como Derrida no superan la negatividad de la anomie, puesto que han quedado ajenos a la adunamia, y por lo tanto capturados en una movimiento de desplazamiento cohabitados por la zona de indeterminación de la indexación del acto traducible al movimiento mismo de dunamis y energeia [9]. Desde luego, los pasos que Agamben se toma para desarrollar esta proximidad entre Schmitt y Derrida son inmensos, y pasan justamente por toda una lectura minuciosa a varios niveles del “mesianismo apostólico” de Pablo contra las interpretaciones vulgares del mesianismo como futurología (para Agamben basadas en una sustitución de apóstol por profeta), o la homologación con la escatología que apuntan a una crítica implícita, aunque sin nombrarlos, a Jacob Taubes y a toda la tradición marxista atrapada en una homogeneidad del tiempo vulgar del desarrollo.

Si el mesianismo sin Mesías de Derrida solo acontece en una postulación diferida de momentos en el tiempo de interrupción; para Agamben no se trata de un tiempo futuro ni del fin del tiempo, sino de un tiempo de fin que marca el ya constituido devenir entre lo que podemos concebir ese tiempo basado en nuestra concepción de la representación de esa temporalidad final. La concepción del mesianismo como “temporalidad operacional” del ahora-aconteciendo se distancia de manera fundamental de posiciones como la John Caputo (Paul and the philosophers), Michael Theodore Jennings Jr. (Reading Derrida / Thinking Paul), o Harold Coward (Derrida and Negative Theology), quienes en su momento intentaron homologar la lógica de la democracia a venir con el “tiempo mesiánico” de Pablo de Tarso.

Las diferencias son ahora muy claras: si Derrida ofrece la “trace” como catacresis de un origen, Agamben insiste que esa posición asume una concepción semiológica de la metafísica, y que ahora se inscribe en el suspenso de la negatividad (que ahora se ha insertado en la modernidad bajo la aufhebung hegeliana), pero sin posibilidad de pleroma [9]. La trace es escatológica, al igual que en su reverso el katechon, en la medida en que apunta a una anomie de primer grado – llamémosle una excepción 1 – que no logra suspender la lógica inclusiva-exclusiva del mismo movimiento de la excepcionalidad. Aunque nunca dicho en estos términos, Agamben para Attell sería quien hace posible una excepción 2 (una excepción a la excepción de la anomia via la dunamis), en donde se hace posible no una postergación del tiempo cronológico, sino una katargesis (des-obra, inoperancia) haciendo posible un vínculo existencial de representación del tiempo “operacional” mesiánico como algo que ocurrirá o que ha ocurrido , sino como algo que va ocurriendo. La noción de tiempo “operacional”, como el énfasis en los deícticos como índice del lenguaje-que-tiene-lugar, es retomado por Agamben de la escuela de Benveniste, y en este caso especifico de Gustave Guillaume para pensar la temporalidad no como chronos, sino como duración que antecede a la significación y que marca el tiempo de la formacion de una imagen-en-el-tiempo [10]. Esta maniobra le permite a Agamben seguir tomando distancia del signo y moverse hacia una significación general escapando el paradigma de la semiología y de la lengua como división residual que ahora ocurre a partir de imágenes via Aby Warburg, W. Benjamin, o Gilles Deleuze [11].

La katargesis es también la desvinculación radical en nombre de un mesianismo sin ergon, en disposición del fin de la ‘actividad como trabajo’, esto es, dada a la plenitud de la adunamia. Escribe Attell en lo que podríamos llamar una tematización de la “suspensión de la excepción 1” en cuanto a derecho:

“For Agamben, who has his critique of the Derridean katechon very much in mind here, the point of Kafka (and Benjamin) imagery of a defunct, idling, operative law is not a matter of a “transitional phase that sever archives its end, nor of a process of infinite deconstruction that, in maintaining the law in a spectral life, can no longer get to the the bottom of it. The decisive point here that the law – no longer practiced, but studied – is not justice, only the gate that leads to it…another use of the law” [12].

La diferencia sustancial entre la excepción 1 y la 2 es que mientras la 1 mantiene una “negociación perpetua” con la Ley, la 2 imagina una posibilidad del fin de excepcionalidad soberana del derecho sin remitirá al nihilismo, es decir, a su suspensión fáctica absoluta. La noción de “uso” como “juego” que introduce a Attell en su “Coda” queda limitada a desentenderse del más reciente L’uso dei corpi (Neri Pozza, 2014), donde la cuestión del uso ya no queda cifrada en una práctica ni a un dispositivo tal cual, sino más bien a una forma aleatoria de existencia – el “ritmo” o la “rima” serían incluso mejores figuras para describirla – que tematizan la irreducible distancia entre la vida y el derecho, o entre la forma-de-vida y el fin de la soberanía. Todo esto pareciera ser sospechoso, y hasta cierto punto de vista una resolución clarividente. Pero Agamben es consciente que la superación de la soberanía o del arche es una tarea en curso, y no implica que llegue a su culminación en su pensamiento. Lo que parece ocurrir es un abandono de la matriz de significación de la crítica-onto-teologica (la deconstrucción) hacia una “modalidad” que, sin vitalismo ni humanismo alguno, busca pensar la porosidad de la vida como forma an-arquica en vía de una distinta concepción de la política.

Pero habría que notar que el pensamiento de Agamben no comienza ni termina en el mesianismo, como lo demuestra ahora el reciente L’uso dei corpi, donde Agamben pareciera repetir la misma modulación de su argumento filológico sobre San Pablo, pero esta vez a través de un conjunto de “ejemplos” que incluyen la pregunta por el estilo, la ontología modal, el paisaje, el mito de Er, el concepto de virtud, o el poder destituyente en Walter Benjamin. En cualquier caso, una futura investigación crítica sobre el corpus Agamben tendría que reparar no solo en la tematización del mesianismo como un “punto de culminación de un pensamiento”, sino más bien pensar lo que yo me aventuraría a llamar la indiferenciación modular del estatuto de la glosa o del ejemplum [13]. En la forma de la glosa, así como en el ejemplo, donde pudiéramos a comenzar a pensar el desplazamiento que estructura la misma “forma de vida” en cuanto propuesta conceptual de obra que compartimentaría via ‘ejemplos singulares’ (como en La comunidad que viene) sin inscribirlos en una teoría general de pensamiento o mucho menos “teoría”. Este registro es completamente ignorado por Attell.

En efecto, una de las tensiones que solapan el libro de Attell es la poca problematización sobre el orden de la “política” o lo “político” a partir de la katargesis o de la potencia. ¿Por qué sostener una “política que viene” sin más? ¿No es eso, acaso, una forma de falso mesianismo katechontico? Es cierto que Attell alude en varios momentos a la “estructuración metafísica” de la política moderna, pero su libro, y quizás el pensamiento mismo de Agamben, nos deja una tarea para lo que aquí llamamos infrapolítica, y que de manera similar podemos pensar como una fractura de la politización con la vida más allá de una temporalidad vulgar asumida de la filosofía de la historia del capital (Villalobos-Ruminott), o como proceso continuo de metaforización (Moreiras) [14]. Es ahí donde el libro de Attell, más allá del diferendo deconstrucción-potencia, puede ser productivo para seguir pensando tras la ruina categorial de la política moderna. Tal y como dice Agamben en Homo Sacer, y que Attell es incapaz de tematizar sus consecuencias estrictamente políticas: “Politics therefore appears as the truly fundamental structure of Western metaphysics insofar as it occupies the threshold on which the relation between the living being and the logos is realized” [15].

La política es inescapable a la labor de la negatividad de la actualización nihilista. Por lo que la pregunta central en torno al uso que coloca Agamben como tarea a sus contemporáneos es, en buena medida, también la pregunta por los usos que le demos a Agamben. Usos que, más allá de estar marcados por conceptos o el circunloquio viciosos de una exigencia retórica, pregunta por la creación de una multiplicación de estilos, una capacidad de habitar sin regla ni condición al interior del intersticio entre la imaginación y el lenguaje.




  1. Kevin Attell. Giorgio Agamben: beyond the threshold of deconstruction. New York: Fordham University Press, 2014. p.3
  1. Refiero aquí “Persecución y el arte de la escritura” de Leo Strauss. Habría que pensar en que medida muchos libros de reconstrucción intelectual o “pensamiento” plantean un esquema similar asumiendo de esta manera la “crisis del pensamiento”.
  1. Kevin Attell. p.37
  1. Ibid. p.82
  1. Attell. p.97
  1. Ver la discussion sobre el arche de Reiner Schurmann en Heidegger: on being and acting: from principles to anarchy (Indiana, 1990). p.97-105.
  1. Giorgio Agamben. “What is the contemporary?”. What is an apparatus and other essays. Stanford University Press, 2009.
  1. Kevin Attell. p.215.
  1. Quizás esto ahora hace legible lo que parecía un insulto infantil en Introduction to civil war de Tiqqun: “57. The only thought compatible with Empire—when it is not sanctioned as its official thought—is deconstruction“.
  1. Si tomamos la metafísica más allá del problema del Ser, ¿no se abre otra historia que ya no pasa por el anclaje epocal que sugiere la tradición de la destrucción de la metafísica? ¿No es el “averroísmo”, una tradición de pensamiento que, al ser sepultada, queda fuera de los límites de la máquina onto-teologica de la metafísica? Para una excelente reconstrucción del averroísmo y su actualidad, ver “La Potencia de Averroes: Para una Genealogía del Pensamiento de lo Común en la Modernidad”, Revista Pleyade, N.12, 2013, de Rodrigo Karmy.
  1. Como en el capítulo sobre la “ontología modal” en L’uso dei corpi, habría que detenerse en un futuro en el nexo entre la noción de “tiempo operacional” a partir de imágenes que constituye el “tiempo del fin” en San Pablo via Guillaume, y lo que Deleuze llamó “la imagen-tiempo“. En efecto, Deleuze reconocería la centralidad de Guillaume en Time-Image: “…habría en las imágenes otro contenido, de otra naturaleza. Esto sería lo que Hjelmslev llama lo non-lingüístico…o bien, lo primero signado, anterior al sentido (significante), que Gustave Guillaume lo doto de condición de la lingüística” (262).
  1. Kevin Attell. p.253.
  1. Para pensar la noción de “ejemplo” como modalidad del método en Agamben, ver La comunidad que viene. Habría que pensar hasta que punto la oposición ejemplo y paradigma, establecen una singularización del método que no se restituya a una teoría general de lo político. Esto estaría también muy cercano de la “hacceity” que Gilles Deleuze adopta de John Duns Scotus. Le agradezco a Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott un breve intercambio sobre este tema.
  1. Ver Soberanías en suspenso: imaginación y violencia en América Latina (La Cebra, 2013), de Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott. Sobre des-metaforizacion, véase los apuntes de Moreiras al seminario de Derrida de 1964 en
  1. Giorgio Agamben. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Stanford University Press, 1998. p.7-8.

Das Leben ist ohne warum: una nota sobre Reiner Schürmann (Gerardo Muñoz).

Al comienzo de su libro Le principe d’anarchie: Heidegger et la question de l’agir (1982), Schürmann sugiere que lo fundamental en la filosofía (en la historia de la filosofía, así como en la arquitectónica de cada uno de sus pensadores epocales) no se encuentra en las condiciones enunciadas, sino más bien en eso que nunca aparece dicho, pero que a su vez hace posible la validación axiomática [1]. Este es, si se quiere, el punto de partida de Schürmann para desarrollar – quizás no exhaustivamente –la asociación entre “ser”, “acción”, y “arche” en el pensamiento de la destrucción de la metafísica de Heidegger leído en reverso; es decir, desde su última etapa topológica hacia la analítica existencial.

Lo que está en juego en el trabajo de Schürmann no es – conviene decirlo desde ya – instalar a Heidegger en un programa regido por una nueva economía categorial del presente, ni mucho menos vincularlo al fundamento de la crítica ingenua que busca superar el nihilismo en cuanto a su consumación (léase aquí la tecnología en tanto “ge-stell”). Al contrario, el interés de Schürmann es mostrar cómo la condición práctica, irreducible tanto al pensamiento como acción y a la acción como pensamiento, pudiera dar un giro fuera de todo antropocentrismo a partir del pensamiento atento al ser como tiempo en una posibilidad an-árquica que se abre a partir de lo que me gustaría traducir, via Schürmann, como la “economía de economías” , esto es, la “posibilidad” (Moglichkeit) de una economía an-árquica en el fin de la metafísica occidental [2].

En otras palabras, a partir de una doble operación, la acción en Heidegger está desprovista de arche, ya que la propia condición del pensamiento deconstruye el principio [3]. Esta reducción fenomenológica carece de toda concepción teleocrática, aunque su única potencia (irreducible a mando o comienzo) es la libertad como fin de la forma principial de la dominación. La claridad de Schürmann no prohíbe la aparición de una serie de posicionamientos, claramente centrales e importantes para lo que se ha venido pensando como la “deconstrucción infrapolítica” atenta a la co-pertenencia entre vida, ética, y política. Por esta razón, en lugar de recaer en la imposible tarea de glosar El principio de la anarquía, quiero detenerme en un momento desde el cual, quizás, pudiéramos abrir uno de estos posibles caminos aporéticos en el interior de nuestra reflexión.

Hay uno de estos momentos no dichos en Schürmann que marca el texto de comienzo a fin, y que aparece justo en las primera páginas y se vuelve a retomar hacia el final. Me refiero a un breve apunte de pasada en el cual Schürmann pregunta por el estatuto de la ética en Heidegger, cuya esencia hubiese sido decisiva si partimos que la anarquía de la época a-principial (la entrada a “esa noche del mundo”, en palabras de Hölderlin) habría dado el giro a la consumación épocal de la ge-stell tecnológica. Conviene escuchar a Schürmann sobre este momento aporético:

“…the genealogy of principles will show how this lineage itself was born; how, with a certain radical turn, the Socratic turn, the constellations of presencing began to be dominated by principles;’ how, at last, with another no less radical turning which announces itself in the technological reversal, these constellations can cease to be dominated by principles. But this thought of a possible withering away of the principles is only progressively articulated in Heidegger. It has been clear from the start that the question, “When are you going to write an ethics?” posed to him after the publication of his major work, arouse from a misunderstanding. But it is only in Heidegger’s last writings that the issue of action finds its adequate context: the genealogy of a finite line of epocal principles” [4].

La aporía aquí es llevada a un punto máximo de explicitación: si por una parte en Ser y Tiempo se anuncia una destrucción (Abbau) fenomenológica de la historia de la ontología occidental, el pliegue que se deja caer en tanto forma de acción a-principial deriva consecuentemente hacia la pregunta por una ética en la medida en que se subscriba la tarea de Schürmann de llevar adelante una fenomenología de los principios epocales (puesto que el ser se entreteje con el carácter común presencial de la dichtung). Por otra parte si aceptamos (dice Schürmann) la solicitación de una ética en el pensamiento de Heidegger, la demanda pudiera ser entendida como generativa de elementos transformados en normas o reformulados en categorías prescriptivas o descriptivas. Lo cierto es que el Heidegger de Schürmann no avanza más allá de esta aporía central en cuanto a la radicalización de la pregunta por el Ser (ti to on) en la crisis an-árquica epocal [5]. La pregunta por la ética en el fin de la destrucción de la metafísica por lo tanto queda en suspenso.

Curiosamente quizás esta sea la misma aporía que ha llevado a Giorgio Agamben en su más reciente L’uso dei corpi (Neri Pozza, 2014), volumen que redondea el proyecto teórico-político bajo el nombre de Homo Sacer, a confrontar abiertamente la interpretación de la ontología dual (más adelante explicaremos porqué) reconstruida por Schürmann. Escribe Agamben en la penúltima glosa de “Per una teoria della potenza destituente”:

א “Il termine arche significa in greco tanto «origine» che «comando». A questo doppio significato del termine, corrisponde il fatto che, tanto nella nostra tradizione filosofica che in quella religiosa, I’origine, cioche da inizio epone in essere, no e soltanto un esordio, che scompare e cessa di agire in cio a cui ha dato vita, ma e anche cio che ne comanda e governa la crescita, lo sviluppo, la circolazione e la trasmissione – in una parola, la storia. In un libro importante, II principio d’anarchia (1982), Reiner Schürmann ha cercato di decostruire, a partire da un’interpretazione del pensiero di Heidegger, questo dispositivo. Egli distingue costi nell’ultimo Heidegger I’essere come puro venire alia presenza e I’essere come principio delle econome storico-epocali. A differenza di Proudhon e di Bakunin, che non hanno fatto che «spostare l’origine», sostituendo al principio di autorita un principio razionale, Heidegger avrebbe pensato un principio anarchico, in cui l’origine come venire alla presenza si emancipa dalla macchina delle economie epocali e non govema piu il divenire storico. II limite dell’interpretazione di Schiirmann appare con evidenza nello stesso sintagma, volutamente paradossale, che fomisce il titolo al libro: il «principio d’anarchia». Non basta separare origine e comando, principium e princeps: come abbiamo mostrato in II Regno e la Gloria, un Re che regna ma non governa non e che uno dei due poli del dipositivo governamentale e giocare un polo contra l‘altro non e sufficiente ad arrestarne il funzionamento. L’anarchia non puo mai essere in pisizione di principio: essa puo solo liberarsi come un contatto, la dove tanto l‘arche come origine che l‘’arche come comando sono esposti nella loro non-relazione e neutralizzati” [6].

Lo que subyace en está crítica de Agamben – debatible y probablemente injusta, aunque acertada – solo se puede entender a partir de una lectura detenida de su libro Opus Dei. En este libro se deconstruyen las “dos ontologías dominantes de Occidente”: el comando y el deber, el “ser” y el “deber-ser”, la “teoría” y la “práctica”, ancladas anfibológicamente en la esfera del derecho y la filosofía, introducidas en la ética moderna (Kant), así como en la invención del normativismo legal (Kelsen) [7]. No conviene en este momento hacer una lectura detenida de Opus Dei – aunque es fundamental hacerla para la comprensión de Le principe d’anarchie (1982) –en cuanto a la pregunta por la ética luego de la liquidación de las ontologías hegemónicas (principio y comando).

Por ahora, quizás solo debemos decir que para Agamben, la cesura que establece Schürmann entre “comando” y “principio” no es suficiente para establecer una relación an-árquica (en efecto, al citar al Benjamin de la anarquía del poder, Agamben malinterpreta totalmente la distinción crucial en Schürmann entre la “anarquía económica epocal” y la “anarquía del poder” en el pensamiento de Heidegger), sin poder establecer una ontología co-sustancial con el momento destructivo epocal. (Esto Agamben lo resuelve de diversas formas en su obra. Pero digamos que el vórtice de elaboración aparece, a mi modo de ver, en la ‘ontología modal’ así como en el concepto paulino de la katargesis en preparación para la desactivación de toda operatividad) [8].

Me gustaría sugerir, sin embargo, al menos un lugar donde ocurre algo así como una doble interrupción entre ambas lecturas; la de Schürmann sobre Heidegger y la de Agamben sobre Schürmann. La clave estaría ceñida en el concepto de Gelassenheit (serenidad) obviada por Agamben, y apenas tematizada por Schürmann. Es allí donde el momento epocal es afrontado por una facticidad unívoca de la atención ante la ge-stell vía una forma que en su uso de vida ya ha dejado de ser capturada, al decir del propio Schürmann, por los aparatos hegemónicos de la tecnificación [9]. (Debo decir, desde luego, que con esto no quiero sugerir que el principio epocal, explicitado con tanta elocuencia por Schurmann en este libro, quede superado en la obra de Agamben).

Es a partir de la Gelassenheit que la pregunta por la ontología no solo cobra un lugar importante de articulación, sino que además ya no encuentra razón de ser en un normativismo prescriptivo ni un principio en disposición del ser, sino que solo aparece ligado a la vida como facticidad, o bien en palabras de Heidegger vía Ángelus Silesius: “En el oscuro fondo de su ser, el hombre verdaderamente siendo coincide en su forma como es; sin porqué”. (La figura de Silesius es simétrica con la ‘vida sin porqué’ de Eckhart, o ‘el niño que juega’ de Heráclito).

Es importante que Heidegger no diga meramente que el hombre es sin porqué, sino que es sin porqué en la medida en que su ser ya se piensa siendo. ¿Puede ese momento de inflexión inscrito a partir de la Gelassenheit pensarse sobre los bordes de una “infrapolítica del vencimiento”, tal y como le ha llamado Alberto Moreiras en un reciente apunte programático? Por el momento solo podemos responder con las mismas palabras de Moreiras: “si esto es un programa, la letra aun no está escrita”.



  1. Reiner Schürmann. Heidegger on Being and Acting: From Principles to Anarchy. Indiana University Press, 1987.
  1. Ibíd. “The theoretical turn away from anthropocentrism is only one condition for the possible thinking (being as time) of a possibility (anarchic economy)”. P. 302
  1. Ibíd. “Heidegger makes action deprived of arche the condition of thought which deconstructs the arche…always appears as the a priori for the ‘thought of being’. P. 7
  1. Ibíd. 11
  1. Ibíd. “It is necessary to exist without why in order to understand presencing as itself without arche, or telos, ‘without why’”. 293
  1. Giorgio Agamben. L’uso dei corpi. Neri Pozza Editore, 2014.
  1. Giorgio Agamben. Opus Dei. Archeologia dell’ufficio. Bollati Boringhieri, 2012.
  1. Reiner Schürmann. Heidegger on Being and Acting. Es crucial esta distinción establecida por Schürmann, para contener la crítica de Agamben (si bien hay que tener en mente que el Agamben de Il Regno e la Gloria, tambien glosando a Schürmann, atiende al “principio económico” para sustraerlo a la oikonomia del poder. Todo esto para decir, quizas, que para Agamben el poder y la oikonomia convergen en la forma goburnamental de la soberanía que expresa la maxima ‘el Rey gobierna pero no manda’): “Economic anarchy is not anarchy of power. What I called the hypothesis of closure makes it impossible to conceive of public affairs according to the model of reference to the one, that is, according to the principial model that founds the delegation of functions and the investment of power in ad hoc representative or titular. Economic anarchy is opposite to the anarchy of power as lawfulness is to lawlessness, as thinking is to the irrational, and as liberty is to oppression”. 290


“Infrapolitical Action: The Truth of Democracy at the End of General Equivalence”

I. Extroduction

Jean-Luc Nancy refers to general equivalence, in his short book La communauté affrontée (2001), a bit counterintuitively: “What arrives to us is an exhaustion of the thought of the One and of a unique destination of the world: it exhausts itself in a unique absence of destination, in an unlimited expansion of the principle of general equivalence, or rather, by counterblow, in the violent convulsions that reaffirm the all-powerfulness and all-presentiality of a One that has become, or has again become, its own monstrosity” (12). Only a few pages later he speaks about the increasing “inequality of the world to itself,” which produces a growing impossibility for it to endow itself with “sense, value, or truth.” The world thus precipitously drops into “a general equivalence that progressively becomes civilization as a work of death;” “And there is no other form in the horizon, either new or old” (15). If the loss of value organizes general equivalence, it is the general equivalence of the nothing. Nancy is talking about nihilism in a way that resonates with the end of Martin Heidegger’s essay “The Age of the World Picture,” where Heidegger discusses “the gigantic” as the culmination of modern civilization in order to say that quantitative-representational technology can also produce its own form of greatness. It is at the extreme point of the gigantic that general calculability, or general equivalence, projects an “invisible shadow” of incalculability (“This incalculability becomes the invisible shadow cast over all things when man has become the subiectum and world has become picture” [Heidegger 72)]). Heidegger’s invisible shadow could be compared with Nancy’s hint of “an obscure sense, not a darkened sense but a sense whose element is the obscure” (20). Let me risk the thought that this obscure sense, as the invisible shadow of an undestined world, is for Nancy the wager of a radical abandonment of the neoliberal world-image, a notion that has become commonplace in political discourse today. But we do not know towards what yet—the invisible shadow within nihilism that projects an obscure sense out of nihilism is a political alogon whose function remains subversive, but whose sense remains elusive.

In The Truth of Democracy (2008) Nancy says that, in 1968, “something in history was about to overcome, overflow, or derail” the principal course of the political struggles of the period (15). This statement is probably not meant to be understood as springing from any kind of empirical analysis. Rather, the book makes clear that “something in history” is precisely the truth of history, understood as the epochal truth of history along classically Heideggerian lines (“Metaphysics grounds an age in that, through a particular interpretation of beings and through a particular comprehension of truth, it provides that age with the ground of its essential shape. This ground comprehensively governs all decisions distinctive of the age” [Heidegger, “Age” 57). There was a truth that the Europeans, for instance, could only obscurely perceive under the veil of a “deception,” and such a truth is, for Nancy, the truth of democracy that titles his book. My contention is that Nancy’s insistence on that truth of history, or truth of democracy, preserves a Hegelian-Kojèvian position that Nancy proceeds to overdetermine from a critique of nihilism. In other words, for Nancy, a truth of history was about to overcome and derail the main course of political struggles from the left in 1968, and it was the event of true democracy, only accessible on the basis of an opening to an epochal mutation of thought whose necessary condition would have been, would be, the renunciation of the principle of the general equivalence of things, infrastructurally represented by the Marxian Gemeinwesen, money, as the unity of value and as generic unity of valuation. The truth withdrawn under the veil of disappointment is the possibility of overcoming the nihilism of equivalence. Such is the modification Nancy imposes on the Kojévian thematics of the end of history, which now becomes understandable as the history of nihilism. Against it Nancy wants to offer a new metaphysics of democracy. Nancy’s understanding of democracy coincides with his “obscure sense” of the incalculable. In this essay, I will try to explain it, first, and then raise a question at the end.

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