Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, Apres Badiou.

Le Sinthome Politique, p. 353

L’aporie se montre dans la question de l’art contemporain, l’art “desartifié”, comme dit Adorno. Ce que le Mythe donnait, politiquement, il l’assurait non seulement par l’art, mais à l’art. Que le déclin de la poésie grecque ait coïncidé avec le triomphe de la philosophie doit être assumé et par la philosophie, et par l’art: c’est exactement ce qu’il a fait, de Sade à Gyotat et Lacoue-Labarthe en passant par Baudelaire et Bataille ; mais c’est bien ce qui échappe aux rédempteurs stalininens de Wagner comme ça a échappé à Wagner lui-même. Le Mythe, tel qu’il organise la politique, l’être-en-commun de la Cité, garantit la pérennité d’un grand art en donnant une ou deux figures à l’art (Ulysse, Œdipe,   la crucifixion, les apôtres…). L’art grec en a vécu et en est devenu “l’immortel” qu’il est, l’art chrétien, et beaucoup plus longtemps encore, aussi. Le Mal, dans l’art contemporain, se contresigne par l’absence de figure: la défiguration, de Goya à Bacon (par exemple), parce que d’Auchwitz aux faméliques éthiopiens, des corps et visages fondus d’Hiroshima aux enfants vietnamiens, la défiguration archi-politique que la Technologie, savoir l’Universel scientifique “positif”, a produit de toujours sur des corps politique, esclaves et martyrs, les singularisant par là dans l’anonymat d’innombrable bans, est devenue littérale.

 

The aporia shows itself in the question of contemporary art, art “de-artified” as Adorno says. That which the Myth gave, politically, wasn’t assured only by art but to art. That the decline of Greek poetry coincided with the triumph of philosophy must be assumed both by philosophy and by art: it’s exactly what it has done, from Sade to Gyotat and Lacoue-Labarthe by way of Baudelaire and Bataille ; but it’s well what escapes the Stalinist redeemers of Wagner, like it escaped Wagner himself. Myth, such as it organises politics, the being-in-common of the City, guarantees the perennity of a great art by giving one or two figures to art (Ulysses, Oedipus, the crucifixion, the apostles…). Evil, in contemporary art, countersigns by the absence of figure: the defiguration, from Goya to Bacon (for example), because from Auchwitz to starving Ethiopians, the melted faces and bodies of Hiroshima to Vietnamese children, the archi-political defiguration that Technology, meaning the “positive” scientific Universal, has produced since always on political bodies, slaves and martyrs, singularizing them in the anonymity of innumerable bans, has become literal.

 

 

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The production of ideas, of conceptions, of consciousness, is at first directly interwoven with the material activity and the material intercourse of men, the language of real life. Conceiving, thinking, the mental intercourse of men, appear at this stage as the direct efflux of their material behaviour. The same applies to mental production as expressed in the language of politics, laws, morality, religion, metaphysics, etc., of a people. Men are the producers of their conceptions, ideas, etc. – real, active men, as they are conditioned by a definite development of their productive forces and of the intercourse corresponding to these, up to its furthest forms. Consciousness can never be anything else than conscious existence, and the existence of men is their actual life-process. If in all ideology men and their circumstances appear upside-down as in a camera obscura, this phenomenon arises just as much from their historical life-process as the inversion of objects on the retina does from their physical life-process.

In direct contrast to German philosophy which descends from heaven to earth, here we ascend from earth to heaven. That is to say, we do not set out from what men say, imagine, conceive, nor from men as narrated, thought of, imagined, conceived, in order to arrive at men in the flesh. We set out from real, active men, and on the basis of their real life-process we demonstrate the development of the ideological reflexes and echoes of this life-process. The phantoms formed in the human brain are also, necessarily, sublimates of their material life-process, which is empirically verifiable and bound to material premises. Morality, religion, metaphysics, all the rest of ideology and their corresponding forms of consciousness, thus no longer retain the semblance of independence. They have no history, no development; but men, developing their material production and their material intercourse, alter, along with this their real existence, their thinking and the products of their thinking. Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life. In the first method of approach the starting-point is consciousness taken as the living individual; in the second method, which conforms to real life, it is the real living individuals themselves, and consciousness is considered solely as their consciousness.

This method of approach is not devoid of premises. It starts out from the real premises and does not abandon them for a moment. Its premises are men, not in any fantastic isolation and rigidity, but in their actual, empirically perceptible process of development under definite conditions. As soon as this active life-process is described, history ceases to be a collection of dead facts as it is with the empiricists (themselves still abstract), or an imagined activity of imagined subjects, as with the idealists.

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