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Get to Know Us. English Choose a language for shopping. Amazon Music Stream millions of songs. Amazon Advertising Find, attract, and engage customers. Amazon Drive Cloud storage from Amazon. Benjamin, Baudelaire, , 72 Tao, Grenier, 3. Emotion and Distance Subject prey to benevolence: Let's recall that withholding is an erotic principle of the Tao more sensual here than in its conception of dry benevolence.
Now, strangely, one of the initiators of negative theology, Dionysius the Areopagite, persists, while speaking of sublime, divine love, in using the word Eros desiring love , which he prefers to Agape charitable love ; because Eros implies ekstasis: And Gregory of Nyssa another negative mystic: Agape Eros Denys,38, Weariness Let's look at the knot, the etymological spectrum. Labor, Lassitudo, Fatigatio or Defatigatio. At the crossroads of two images: General image of sagging, of one's being squashed.
We easily reconstruct the image: I am a tire that flattens. It's the paradoxical infinity of weariness: Etymology Gide Tire 1. Tied to work labor. But it seems that, in the current social field, it is hard to connect "weariness" with the worker's, the farmer's, the employee's manual or assimilated type of work. In any case, caste condition: This raises the problem of the place of weariness in society.
What is the place of a lesion of the total body in the socially recognized table of illnesses? Is weariness an illness or not? Is it a nosological reality? Lacking a good study of medical language an idea in the air, seminar at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales two years ago, seminar of Clavreul, 49 but to my knowledge no lexicographically usable outcome , let us listen intuitively to language: Depression is increasingly recognized as a nosological reality perhaps through the creation of a-supposedly-relevant pharmacopeia: Better, but watch out for the vengeance of fate!
Society has always coded the duration of mourning: I ask to be led back to a region where it might be possible to be weary. What Wearies Everyone should try to make a chart of his weariness: I will signal-among many-one subjective weariness: I will read a text written in the "I" mode, a little diary fragment summer ' I don't dare close the door.
What wearies me is not the noise; it's the banality of the conversation ah, if he could speak a language unknown to me and which would be musical! I am always surprised stunned by the tireless character of others. The energy-and above all the linguistic energy-stuns me: The other, is the indefatigable.
However, when confronted with a conversation, a means for me to regain control, to retake a grip on myself: It's why conversations with strangers in the train, for instance less fatiguing for me than conversations with friends: I am able to take control of my exclusion by looking at the picture. What is at stake in conversation is finding my place in relation to language when it is performed by others: Also, another form of weariness: The present-day world is full of it statements, manifestos, petitions, etc.
However, to float, i. Weariness as Work, as Game, as Creation I said: Faced with weariness, or coping with it-among others-three possible ways of using it. One might say that not only does weariness not impede the work, but the work demands this being weary without measure. This is why one could say that weariness does not constitute an empirical time, a crisis, an organic event, a muscular episode-but a quasi-metaphysical dimension, a sort of bodily and not conceptual idea, a mental kinesthesia: I use its infiniteness as an accompaniment of my work.
Here, one grasps this: Weariness as Game I said that weariness was deprived of the socially recognized power of excusing. Which means that I often, that we often think of weariness 20 as a possible excuse: This is well put with regard to Gide Cahiers de la Petite Dame, Gide is eighty-one, he is going to die a year later: The game is not only social: It's what Gide does: Perhaps it's what I do myself in devoting a figure of the course to it. Gide Play Position c.
Weariness as Creation Pyrrho. A figure whom we will often reencounter, a figure of choice for me fourth-third century , is Pyrrho, 5 that's to say the Pyrrhonian and not the founder of Pyrrhonism, since his attitude was precisely asystematic, adogmatic , out of weariness: In so doing, in assuming his weariness-the speech of others as excessive, as oppressive-he created something: I won't specify what because as a matter of fact it was neither a philosophy nor a system; I could say: Weariness is thus creative, from the moment, perhaps, when one agrees to submit to its orders.
The right to weariness but what is as stake here is not a problem of health coverage thus shares in the new: Pyrrho Sophists Ciao Silence 1. Sileo and Taceo In classical Latin, same meaning: But earlier, interesting nuance: Is used for objects, night, the sea, winds. This "silence" of nature draws near Boehme's mystical vision of God.
For Boehme, God "in himself": God, deprived of paradigm, cannot manifest himself, cannot reveal himself even to himself: Tacere here I mix, unduly it goes without saying, the Latin etymological series and the Boehmian mystical series , tacere thus, as silence of speech, is opposed to silere, as silence of nature or of divinity; then, last avatar, the two equalize, become synonyms, but to the benefit of tacere: There was in Greek because there was in the institutions a word for this legal right: The problem still occupies the front stage: But backstage, or downstage, on the side, another demand tries to make itself heard but how?
American jukeboxes, records of silence. Ah" here, a reversal: To Outplay Speech Silence i. I will mention two modes of the tacere: Bacon Francis , Essays Civil and Moral. Bacon recommends a tactical use of these three degrees: This is of course about an external silence, either general a taciturn, "discreet" man or topical being silent about something, if needed by saying something else.
In such a "semiology" of worldly morality, silence has in fact a "speakerly" or "speechly" substance: When in the field of worldliness, of strong sociality and what else is it but an excessively social, worldly language? It is a polyvalent weapon: Torquemada extends the competence of the Holy Office to crimes and misdemeanors such as "implicit heresy," which refers not to a language that is outspokenly against the church silent on this topic but to a subject who is silently heretical through his conduct bigamy, stealing from the church, blasphemers, married priests, etc. Augustine and the obligation always to say the whole truth, whatever the consequences let's recall: We now have a political resurgence of it.
How many times, in our lives, do we have to deal with "frank" people that's to say, who show off being so: There is a certain complicity between tact and the Implicit, the silence of the tacere. The Silence of the Skeptic Hegelian interpretation Hegel, Kojeve of Skepticism we will have many occasions to return to this: Even if we were to adhere to Skepticism, at least one difference between Plato and the man on the street: Philosopher or not, man speaks by contradicting what others say and there is no way of deciding between them.
All that, picked up again with a moral emphasis by the later doctrinaire of Skepticism, Sextus Empiricus Sextus the Physician: To the contrary, he is only reflecting the state of balance of his soul when confronted with uncertain representations and submitted to equal contrary forces": Silence as Sign As we know, in music, silence is as important as sound: Here, we reencounter a process that struck me as early as Writing Degree Zero 23 and has obsessed me ever since: That's what happens to silence: But silence itself takes on the form of an image, of a "wise," heroic, or Sibylline, more or less Stoic posture: I think of this file I offer it to whomever wants it.
Silence is the signifier of a full signified: To Outplay Silence Silence: I have to say something, no matter what, etc. Here, the cost of the sign is quantified: This fully understood by Pyrrho. Pyrrho, not to be confused with dogmatic Skepticism. We have seen paragraph 2, b: Pyrrho's reasoning more radical more sovereign: However, of course, language isn't limited to books, 30 worldliness.
There is that which speaks in me. There is therefore the problem of inner silence. The subject being nothing but language speech , thoroughly from end to end, the ultimate silence of inner speech can be found, be looked for, be evoked, only in a limit zone of human experience, there where the subject puts his death into play as subject: Guyon a substitute, largely, for John of the Cross 31 finds herself admonished by Bossuet because she wanted to pray without language, while, says Bossuet, one must pray with words: More taciturn even than the moral conscience of the Stoic moralists: One can no longer say what it is, since it no longer says anything at all.
Zen's suspicion with regard to theoretical verbalization. Notice once more the same aporia for the Neutral: Initiation to the Tao: This integral silence is no longer simply the tacere but joins the silere: But always the same aporia: Initiation Grenier, Tact 1. Principle of Tact I must return-so as to start from it one more time-to a citation from Sade that I quoted during last year's class, on the principle of tact: The Marquise de Sade, having asked the imprisoned Marquis to have his dirty linen sent out to her knowing the Marquise, for what reason other than to have it washed?
Sade pretends to see in her request another, properly Sadian, motive: Do you know, that is complete tact? Listen, my angel, I have every wish in the world to satisfy you in this matter, because you know the respect I have for tastes, for fantasies: Sade's very utterance exposes what the principle of tact is: Twinklings of Tact Not "traits," "elements," "constituents," but what shines by bursts, in disorder, fugitively, successively, in the "anecdotal" discourse: Era of the schools of tea.
Bringing to the boil: Verging on the useless or enigmatically useful detail: In para-hippie ideology, protest against cleanliness because, it is true, society increasingly turns it into a a functional hygiene , b moral by metonymy: But cleanliness can also be established and defended as art: Discretion indeed connotes an implicit view of the subject as made up of airtight compartments; accepts heterogeneity"' massive, arrogant image of a subject "all of a piece," "frank," etc.
Separation of action and manifestation: Tao produced a kind of political utopia that took the form of a golden age dating from the ancient princes: Separation of Signifier and Signified: Utopian delights of a world where smiling would be the manifestation of a doctrinal, political, etc. Field of the rules that measure the act of love not to weigh on the other. Zen transmitted by Buddha to his disciple Mahakasyapa: Delirious separation of functions: A special attendant was detailed to each flower: As written in the Pingtse: I describe rather lacks, fantasies, "impossibilities" aporias , concerning which there is only one positive thing, i.
Supplement and Not Redundancy r. According to the Eastern model, tact requires the punctilious elimination of all repetition: If the kettle is round, the water pitcher should be angular; a cup with a black glaze should not be associated with a tea caddy of black lacquer; white plum blossoms should not be used when snow lies in the garden. Even space must not repeat itself, thus becoming symmetrical: The rejection of redundancy goes together, if one can say so, with the search for the "supplement," for what elsewhere I have called the overdetermination of pleasures 4 or, to be more modest, given the examples chosen: The principle is that the same substance flower, color, etc.
For example, pleasure of the tea: Tea, Kakuzo, 71, Tea, Kakuzo, 63 32 the kettle sings well, for pieces of iron are so arranged in the bottom as to produce a peculiar melody. Or again always problems of beverages: Critias Sophist had a sense of the quotidian and of practical invention: Very quickly we get to a "comfort" that is overdetermined by an accumulation of gadgets: Sophistes, Aesthetic of comportments Chaplin d.
Politeness as Thought of the Other, Consideration of and for Otherness Politeness a file to open one day: Two examples among others: Tao doctrine on immortality of the body soul"' body: However, immediate rebuttal by the facts: Tact is consubstantially tied to the power of metaphorizing, that is, of isolating a feature and letting it proliferate as language, in a movement of exaltation.
I would go as far as saying: For Sade, founder of the principle or eponymous author of the category, this principle would not have been possible without the marquise, the letter, the interlocution, language. Tea, Kakuzo, 24 Civilization 3. Tact and Sociability a. Tact as the Social Obscene Tied to language, founded by it, tact: The bottom of this prohibition: There are even some who condemn it and claim that it saps courage. Narrow minds fantasize that taste pushed to the extreme isn't compatible with energy.
Here a quote from Baudelaire. The Sabi, the Amorous Principle of tact: We have seen, in ancient Eastern civilization, tea: Lotung, a Tang 14 poet eighth century after Christ , describes the six successive cups of tea in a metaphorical-or affective-mode that is that of falling in love. First cup of tea: I am purified; sixth: Last Provisional Word on Tact r.
In all, or almost all, our examples, a constant: I would suggest calling the nonviolent refusal of reduction, the parrying of generality by inventive, unexpected, nonparadigmatizable behavior, the elegant and discreet flight in the face of dogmatism, in short, the principle of tact, I would call it, all being said: Thus, as far as I am concerned, I do not find it the least surprising that one of the philosophical "orientations" that presents the most affinity with the Neutral, to wit, Pyrrhonism, was at some point defined by gentleness: One can foresee the following aporia: I "analyzed" a "principle" that in fact aims to outplay analysis not as metaphor [cf.
I did it because there is a residue: I will thus end the figure of tact or of sweetness with an anecdote, the meaning of which is: Bias one of the seven wise men: He was pleading in defense of some client in spite of his great age. When he had finished speaking, he reclined his head on his grandson's neck. The opposing counsel made a speech, the judges voted and gave their verdict in favor of the client of Bias, who, when the court rose, was found dead in his grandson's arms.
The Neutral Awakening I already wrote about my interest in a certain type of awakening: If I had to create a god, I would lend him a "slow understanding": In reality, this neutral awakening-precious, rare, fragile, briefrelates back to the substance of sleep: In that, we will call it utopian sleep, or utopia of sleep, since we can't speak of it except as a fantasy: Gide, in To understand 2. The Utopia of Sleep A. Dream is not part of this sleep.
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The utopia of sleep is dreamless. Am I allowed to mention my personal experience? I don't like to dream or to recall that I've dreamt ; if it was a bad dream, it darkens my awakening; if it was sweet, it tears me to pieces when it stops: I could never imagine a sleep utopia filled with dreams, with sweet dreams. Incompetent in etymology, and no desire to glue myself to researching it, but perhaps I should: A notation that rings true in relation to the dying Gide: Affinity with drugs, since, in both cases Aldo Rescio on Wal- ter Benjamin and H , it is a matter of "immersing one's important thoughts into a long sleep," 29 into a "no-place," into the "fatherless" but obviously not the "motherless": Affinity with the theme of immortality, through the figure of suspended time.
Recall a frequent theme of the iconography of Greek vases or reliefs: One day he was sent into the country by his father to look for a stray sheep, and at noon he turned aside out of the way, and went to sleep in a cave, where he slept for fifty-seven hours. After this he got up and went in search of the sheep, thinking he had been asleep only a short time. So he became famous throughout Greece, and was believed to be a special favorite of heaven. He lived one hundred and fifty-seven years.
Drogue, Nataf, Immortality Diogenes Laertius, 1: Selective suspension of time: Greek myth more beautiful: A certain thought of immorality, since the Greeks think that a sleep of this kind is a gift of the gods: Finally, notice that even for the Greeks the idea of an unproductive time triggers a resistance. Diogenes Laertius, Greek of the third century after Christ. Sleep, love, Benevolence As a utopia, to finish, sleep has to be linked not to one but to two: Form of this sleep utopia: To sleep as a couple: To sleep together-utopically-implies that the fear of one's image being surprised is abolished: Albertine's sleep observed by the Narrator: Beautiful notation, quite paradoxical: Language and Discourse Perhaps there are still people who recall it since he definitely fell out of fashion: Since then, Saussure has been, if not attacked, at least "evacuated" by different waves of research: These rules are laws, they permit communication cf.
Affirmation and Language If there is a universal model for the very idea of paradigm let's recall that the subject of our course, the Neutral, is what baffles the paradigm: Put otherwise old problem well known to philosophy , language is naturally assertive: As well, every proposition is assertive constative , and the modes of doubt, of negation, must be signaled by special marks-while none is needed for affirmation.
In borrowing the expression from theology saint Thomas, Eckhart , we could say that language is collatio esse, conferment of being. In Latin, no specific word: Many possible forms but no single topical one. This, in Old French: Oui had become unanalyzable as early as the sixteenth century. Affirmation and Discourse The assertive constraint moves from language to discourse, since discourse is made of propositions that are naturally assertive. Which implies that, in order to withdraw, to preserve the discourse from affirmation, in order to nuance it toward negation, doubt, interrogation, suspension , one must ceaselessly fight against speech, raw material, "law" of discourse.
This leads to permanent, insistent consequences for us who speak and who, by and in language, have to assume responsibility for our imago in front of others language: It's how I interpret the following quotation from Pascal: So those on skepticism cause believers to affirm.
Few men speak humbly of humility, chastely of chastity, few doubtingly of skepticism. Indeed what is interesting: This "negative" is ceaselessly "straightened up" into a positive as soon as one begins From speech to discourse Reversal Pascal Imago Arrogance Pascal, Pensees, frag. For it is a matter of a ceaseless struggle, of a test of strengths: Dramatization Bachelard, 62 4. I will propose three points of reflection but the file is infinitely open: I refer, for the position of the problem, to Hegel Lectures on the History of Philosophy: Walter Benjamin and the experience of H: Trivial empiricity of discourse.
The writing subject feeling the statutory arrogance of language-discourse is tempted to relativize his sentences in a coded way: Now we understand where the Neutral leads I don't say: Ideally, discourse in the Neutral shouldn't even be a discourse in the subjunctive: Perhaps to approach the forms of very modern writing in this light ;e the thetic. Inside me, from one Saturday to another, the course "works. However, a typically arrogant sentence I read in the newspaper this week made me miss the presence of a "softener" -"" it could have been about politics, but no: It's not so distant; eighteen years ago.
The reader is himself responsible for the arrogance as well: I don't -find that Cortot is the greatest French pianist of the century; 2 besides, this type of improvised rating is unacceptable: I had the impression to discover that, curiously, but in an interesting way, the arrogance of the judgment comes in large part from the obliqueness with which the syntax smuggles it in: Unbearable arrogance, perhaps precisely because it is not really writing: To study one day this journalistic writing.
Finally, a personal incident, which will nicely introduce the -figures to come: Thursday, March 9, -fine afternoon, I go out to buy some paints Sennelier4 inks -"" bottles of pigment: In putting them away, I knock one over: And now, I am going to give you the official name of the spilled color, a name printed on the small bottle as on the others vermilion, turquoise, etc.
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Two References Two references, among many others, on which I will linger for an instant, since it is quite obvious that what interests me is the mythical correspondence of the colorless and the Neutral "neutral colors". Portrait of Lao-tzu by Himself: The metaphor doesn't work today: The Garden of Earthly Delights and the altarpiece "form" "backdrop against which the altar is leaning and which is used as decoration". Tao, Grenier, 36 Color Values of Gray 2. Interpretations Let's try to see the values invested in the opposition between colorful and colorless.
In a general way: In the Middle Ages, vivid colors: Here we are in an ideology of "depth," of the apparent versus the hidden. Evangelical theme "' petit-bourgeois ideology of "showing off," lining of fake cloth, front rich, back [unseen] poor. Origin Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights: And we recall Lao-tzu: Shimmer The grisaille, figure that could be called the "color of the colorless," points to another way of thinking the paradigm as the great principle of organization. Model of the paradigm: Now, the monochrome the Neutral substitutes for the idea of opposition that of the slight difference, of the onset, of the effort toward difference, in other words, of nuance: Thus we see that in the end the ultimate opposition, the one that both fascinates and is the most difficult to think about to the extent that it self-destructs in its very statement is that between distinction and indistinction, and this is what is at stake in the Neutral, the reason the Neutral is difficult, provocative, scandalous: We have seen it, this problem: The negative mystics Eckhart clearly saw it: Think here, with a slight modification, of the lines by Angelus Silesius: The Adjective Frequent reference here to facts of language: It's because for me--that's something I firmly believe in, with all the obdurate strength of my feelings-language is pathetic: I struggle with grammar; I pleasure through it: Adjective and Neutral A.
From the point of view of value evaluation, foundation of values , i. On the other hand and on the exact opposite, in the Greek philosophical tradition, the adjective forms an alliance with the Neutral by means of the article: The stake of this ambivalence: Hence we might possibly stretch the object "adjective" out to substantives, if they are theorized by the speaker as kinds of absolute and nonpredicable qualities Boehme's qualitas. And we'll reencounter, mixed, braided together, the good and the bad adjective: Quality as Energy The qualitas roughly: Foundation of the Thing, of the Name The qualitas is what falls onto "the things" in their state of indistinction and imprints itself on them like a force of distinctiveness, of specification, of nomination: Boehme's vision of qualitas is less transcendent the fiat landing sovereignly onto things , more vehement, more "gutsy": Quality as Desire Being a good mystic, Boehme is Cratylian, he believes in "true" etymology.
Thus qualitat Boehme, 88 The hot-light: Let me remind you once more: Gives birth to hardness and cold. Quality of water that dilutes and attenuates salt. A tendency to raise itself up. Interpenetrating movement of the acrid and the sweet. Notice that in Boehmian energetic it's a purely paradigmatic thought: Jakobson's conception of poetry: What type of thought of the Neutral is implied in such a system? It's thus the thought of a certain Neutral. But this Neutral remains conflictual, sensitive to the struggle of angry forces that stand against each other: Aggression Through the Adjective A.
Not to be forgotten: In a good many domains, market value of an object, of a service is debated and calculated as a function of the adjectives that one is able to attach to it, or at least one should study the fields where the adjective comes first: No, but a movie star, yes. And political ratings are inseparable from adjectives, manifestation of the image. Telerama, March 4, p. The Deprecating Adjective I like everyone sometimes hear myself qualified as a writer with intentionally depreciative adjectives: The aggression the unpleasantness doesn't only arise from the depreciative intention but from this: The adjective that comes from outside me upsets the Neutral in which I find my quietude: I am tried by being qualified, predicated, I rest by not being so she alone, isn't the mother the only one who doesn't qualify the child, who doesn't force him into an assessment?
The adjectival interpellation throws me back like a ball a stake into the vertigo of reciprocal images: I am caught in the weariness of the paradigm.
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Neutral Adjectival anesthesias b. The Compliment Do laudatory adjectives appease me at least? How does the Neutral man behave when faced with "compliments"? For there is no peace in images. The refusal of the compliment probably arises from a boundless narcissism, which equates the subject to a god: He dares praise me! Am I not beyond all qualification? That is what a Self would say, if it dared! Hypernarcissism like a blushing that passes: Narcissus knows no rest-and ultimately, what I fundamentally want is to rest. Yet, for my part, I pay compliments, I distribute adjectives: A type of reaction prompted by the frequent situations where abstention is taken as negation: The nature of this compliment: A grandiose example of this assassination through compliments the dithyramb, the unconditional apologia: Joseph de Maistre and the pope: The Refusal of the Adjective Do not confuse the refusal of the adjective with the suspension of adjectives see below.
Someone even went so far as to connect this refusal on the part of science to the question of pleasure: Lucien Israel on hysteria: To Dismiss Adjectives Refusal, suppression, censorship of adjectives "' abolition, lapse, obsolescence, erasure: I will flag four of these experiments that share the attempt at this superhuman project: The Lover's Discourse On the one hand, the loving subject covers the other with laudatory adjectives a polynymy well known to theology or to religious practice; for example: In linguistic culture, two objects seen as beyond predication either in horror or in desire: The Sophists Sophistes, 25 Here is an intellectual nonmystical treatment of predication: Antisthenes' argument used by Protagoras to demonstrate that it is not possible to contradict: Contradiction would no longer be a weapon that defeats the enemy; the true and the false would no longer settle the disputes of language.
This would be the reign of the irreducible: Negative Theology This is the exemplary field of the suspension of the adjective, since the whole mystical experience consists precisely in not predicating God. But, as in the lover's discourse and we know the affinities between the lover's discourse and mystical discourse , this "suspension" occurs in two phases; or by two degrees: Affirmative method, or cataphasis: God considered as universal cause; names correspond to the various effects of this cause, the determination, the operations of God aimed ad extra 38 -;. Then, negative method or apophasis: East For the sake of speed, I'll talk at the same time about Hinduism and about the Tao while, of course, they are not identical at all: In India, way followed by Shankara and his school.
Universal being defined in a negative manner: It's pure negative theology. The Tao is unknowable because, were we to know it, we would enter the domain of the relative and it would lose its quality of absoluteness. Grenier, 14 "If you love something, you love nothing. God is neither this nor that. Give leave to the something. The Time of the Adjective Suppress the adjective?
First of all, this is not "easy" to say the least! A friend points out to me: It's beautiful, it's free, it's human. Of course, an adjective always imprisons the other, myself , that's even the definition of the adjective: But at the same time to evacuate adjectives from language would be to pasteurize to the point of destruction, it's funereal, cf. Stroke it gently or even groom it, but don't "purify" it. We can prefer lure to mourning, or at least we can recognize that there is a time for the lure, a time for the adjective.
Perhaps the Neutral is that: Thus I thank those of you who are nice enough to write to me, to share observations with me either by means of letters or by coming to see me: I thank them for helping me, in so doing, to maintain alive in myself and perhaps for all a course that feeds on the present without falling into the immediacy of the reply. I think that such a practice is homogeneous with the very object of the course, and I want to thank everyone for understanding it.
That being said, I will, therefore not "answer" but give an echo, a drift, to certain things that were said or written to me since last Saturday. I give them in the order in which I received them: I have neither the competence nor the desire to open this very rich ethological file for the moment. But the suggestion turns on an anthropomorphic impulse a metaphor in me, which is very bad but which I will indulge all the same, the time of two short "reveries": In nature, the roles of display are inverted in relation to our society: Basically, we could sketch it with the following rough chart just a springboard for the hypothesis.
This chart has at least the interest alibi of reintroducing a little bit of semiology into the subject! Asian myths and in a certain way romantic myth, notably in Michelet. Second, altogether different observation: I didn't know it, I learned it, and for that I thank her, but this observation reveals a misunderstanding about the way I proceed when I "cite" I call 6 a knowledge here the knowledge of Buddhism -"' four quick observations: It's obvious that knowledge enters the course by means of very fragmented bits, which can seem offhand: It is never mobilized as a doctrinal knowledge: I know nothing and do not pretend to know anything about Buddhism, about Taoism, about negative theology, about Skepticism: I am outside mastery, I have no mastery whatsoever, and, to make it clear, I have no other choice than Nietzsche to "lose respect for the whole'': According to the same listener, there is a primacy of the referent, and the referent of the Buddha's gesture is the coded meaning of the flower, knowledge not tact -"' of course, I never thought that the historical meaning of the Buddha's gesture, what it really meant, was tact.
I would say, paradoxically but firmly-and it is the same for all the historical facts that I cite, for example, the death of Bias in the arms of the child 8- I never interpret. I take the referential bits in fact, bits of reading , and I submit them to an anamorphosis: In the episode of the flower, it wasn't a question of Buddha: Buddha is only a name, like the name of a character from a novel. It could have been myself, I could have said: Because I like Buddha.
But is the best way of loving Buddha to speak him according to History or according to my present? According to his life or according to my life? A female listener suggests that there is a category of "active" adjectives that do not imprison the subject-the present participles-and that this category could very well have a privileged relation to the Neutral. I would love things to be so and for there to exist liberated adjectival forms, which would allow one to speak about a subject without "I.
But in reality our present participles used adjectivally, even if they originate in the verb, are pure and simple adjectives: Perhaps different in English: As for the relation between present participle and the Neutral, it is indeed striking in Greek philosophy, wholly based since Aristotle on the concept of the essence of the thing the thing in itself , to on: Nothing to do, despite the generosity of our listener who wanted to give us a peaceful grammatical category and once again I must thank her for it: The writing of the Neutral, I think it exists, I have encountered it.
I will say it at the end June 3 , this will be the little bit of suspense of the course. However, that's indeed where the essential is at stake: As for your own speech, it is articulated in another sphere despite the insurmountable problem: The desire for neutral is thus caught off guard, perhaps against its will; its sphere of elsewhere remains nonetheless a fixed sphere, that of speech that, in transforming itself into writing and despite the extreme richness of meanings to be found there, allows itself several minutes of pause.
Unbearable pause that freezes it for capture. Faced with this, two questions that have bothered me from the start of your course at the College; don't be mistaken about them, it's not a matter of asking you to take a stand, as much for fear of wearying you as for the great respect that your discourse arouses in the listener. You can't be unaware that the positions of Jacques Lacan are in conflict with those of Deleuze.
Your discourse, despite that, explicitly refers to the two of them. How can that be understood, or, rather, how do you deal with such a contradiction?
Roland Barthes - The Neutral
It is clear that the question itself is aware of its own ridiculousness, your references to Eastern culture as well as to ours clearly show that the choice the good one is not bearable. Here the question cancels itself as if beheaded by the evidence of your unstable project, evidence of play in the Nietzschean sense, "the child- 66 S E SS I 0 N 0 F MARC H 1 8, 1 9 7 8 player" that perhaps constitutes the essence an improper word, needless to say of your past research on forms and signs, to have the meanings climax against each other, to extract their substance out of them we know that it hides, confines itself in an impossible place, and that the words hardly signify, here I am thinking of the Tao , and, from that, to give consistency to a discourse that is hard to pin down which explains the awkwardness of this letter because it is unclassifiable.
The other "question," as difficult to avoid as the first. During your inaugural lecture, you argued that all speech was fascist, a place of power, and that the strength of literature was to baffle this place of mastery. It's where the shoe pinches the most.
I believe that even your desire for Neutral, being despite itself perhaps a stance taken in front of a lack the neutral , flirts with the game of power.
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Of course, no slogan has called for it until now, but, in calmly claiming this desire, you generate a watchword. To be Roland Barthes and to say "I desire the Neutral" may not impose anything except that a large part of the audience will say: Desire doesn't escape recognition; it is desire that the Other recognize my own desire for neutral, and such necessity of communicating this desire cheats the game: Here's how I take this observation: I feel and it's also the opinion of the listener that I don't have to "respond," to "reply," which is to say, to "protest" "But not at all, I don't impose anything," etc.
I receive what is said to me here as something that is said on my behalf, that I tell myself, but on the basis of which, since it is said to me by an other, I can more easily drift: In what is addressed to me here, two things affect me: That by stating my desire for Neutral , I inflect the other's desire.
Thus it's not a question of the topic of the course. But that raises other problems than of desire, problems of reality I already spoke of "Renouncing writing". Thus for the time being, we continue and, on this point, here is how I drift: But by the same stroke, I imply something off center, lateral, indirect: The indirect of desire, of the Neutral, what is it? Desire is nothing but a passage. I pass through the Neutral. Perhaps tomorrow another desire.
This passage of the Neutral could be uttered otherwise: Eight days ago I received a book by someone whom I don't know very normal ; yesterday, this someone called me to ask me what I think of his book. At that very moment, there arises in me the desire for Neutral: The Neutral is not an objective, a target: Being in central and thus inessential position, the Neutral is perhaps a figure, a mask, a painted screen a symptom?
Perhaps, for example, of a political anxiety or a relational anxiety?
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It's not for me to tell, since, in giving an interpretation, I would do nothing but give a new interpretandum. But we can meditate on it, without drawing a conclusion. A second thing that moves me and helps me clarify. In a benevolent way, the listener creates an aporia in me "logical difficulty with no resolution": This aporia is real: But at the same time, it turns the course upside down: To these aporias, we could add I am speeding a rhetoric of the thing ceaselessly posited, asked for, and ceaselessly eluded.
The -files, for example, the types of discourse: Then, perhaps, the active would appear next to the reactive: Which is to say: I said it inaugural lecture in another way: I realize that if I drift too complacently, soon there will no longer be a course, nothing but supplements. Nevertheless, we will return to these -figures of the Neutral.
Images of the Neutral 1. Depreciative Images Except for certain philosophers and for Blanchot, which is to say everywhere in the doxa, the Neutral has a bad press: Each bad image is locked into a bad adjective once again the negative role of the adjective. Here are some of these bad adjectives: Shirking Subject in the Neutral: Does not imagine that there could be another response: I don't like accounts of dreams and I don't like dreams , but this one interested me because it stages a logical scandal: Marx Brothers or Chaplin in a department store , as if that came to me from a reversal of the overwhelmed, discredited, astray Neutral into sovereign Neutral.
Applied to a person: And here we could bring the signifier into play: Charles Bruneau, Manuel de phonetique pratique Berger-Levrault , p. Limp Fichte seventh lesson: Fichte, In this fake being, limp, distended, multiple, there are a crowd of antitheses, of contradictions that live peaceably side by side. Nothing in him is either distinct or separated, but everything is mixed, everything is interlaced.
The men in question hold nothing for true and nothing for false, they love nothing, they hate nothing. They neither love nor hate because for grati70 SESSION OF MARCH 18, tude, for love, for hatred, for each feeling, there must be this energetic concentration of which they are incapable, because it requires that one distinguish and separate within the diversity, and that one choose the single object of one's gratitude and one's affection. To which we could object that, to the contrary, to assume the Neutral would represent an extreme concentration of energy, if only the energy one needs to take responsibility for the image [false but inevitable] of the limp!
According to Fichte, 17 five great eras in the history of man- kind. In fact, there are many indifferences; see below. Fichte, xvi Fichte, lesson 11, p. Vile I understand by vile what is opposed to "noble. Now, Kojeve in fact repeating Hegel's verdict: Silence Skepticism properly speaking bad embodiment of the Neutral lacks the nobility of Eleatism or of Heraclitism, because it gives up speaking about the concept, that is, gives up the path that leads to philosophy: The Neutral would only be saved if it is philosophical; otherwise, bad image: Concept Kojeve, 24 2.
The Neutral as Scandal It is not hard to see what the common ground of these bad images is. Zetetics always looking , 22 Skeptics examining without finding , Ephectics suspending their judgment , Aporetics always looking ; 23 thus, always images of failure or impotence. We don't need to take sides against this image or, then, it's the course as such that is this opposition in its entirety; one doesn't protest against an image, that is useless. What can be done is to drift by displacing the paradigm. For "virility," or for the lack of virility, I would be tempted to substitute vitality.
There is a vitality of the Neutral: I am thinking of the end of the already cited poem by Pasolini Poesia in forma di rosa [Garzanti, ], chapter 5, stanza 9: That refers to something more exterior style, silhouette: I don't believe I am forcing the word; in philosophy: What wouldn't be too bad: Anger Mythologically, the Neutral is associated with a weak, unmarked "state" pathos.
It breaks away from, is distanced by every strong, marked, emphatic state which is, by the same token, allied with "virility" ;. I know three "versions" of anger: I refer here to Sartre's Theory of Emotions. Anger is in fact a type of fainting, a loss of consciousness, thus of responsibility, through excess.
Moreover, it would be interesting to draw the map of our angers: As for myself, whose angers are rare, probably from fear of the effects of reprisal, of the guilt that follows, a probable "patheme": Utterly commonplace idea, endoxal: And, above all, to know how to end it: Let not the sun go down upon your anger. Here I think of Boehme's very beautiful conception, mystical and cosmogonical. Boehme, with regard to the world and even to God as jealous father , often uses the words: Some people sharply resent this distinction: For me, belongs typically to queasiness: The hysteria of nonhysteria?
Broadly speaking, and with some exaggeration: Enfants du placard by Benoit Jacquot: Already in Greek, two well-known conditions of queasiness: Now, the probable etymology: Minimal Existence Here, "state" something like pathos, thus is the opposite of: In any event, refers to a kinesthesia, a bodily feeling of autoexistence. One could define state, pathos, the way it is approached here: One understands now why I relate pathos to the Neutral.
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