Toward an Ethics of the Political

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Toward an Ethics of the Political
YOUNG, FREDERICK JOHN ( Author, Primary )
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Copyright 2004 by Frederick John Young


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I am quite fortunate to have had such an active and helpful committee. I would like to begin by thanking Philip Wegner, whose seminar on Politics and Space in the spring of 1999 was one of the best courses during my long tenure as a graduate student. It opened up and challenged my theoretical concerns and interests. I would also like to thank Phil for the numerous informal meetings and friendship during my tenure here at Florida, especially for his lively participation in our Badiou reading group. I would also like to thank Alexander Alberro for his continued support, and especially providing me with the opportunity to attend as a fellow at the Atlanta Center for the Arts, which allowed me to work with Richard Kostelanetz. While at the ACA I had the time to work on an experimental video, which helped generate ideas for my theoretical work that has developed in publications as well as this dissertation. As a result of that experience, I have continued work collaboratively with artists on other projects. I would also like to thank John Leavey and Greg Ulmer for the help. It was their work on Derrida that drew me to Florida. I would like to thank Greg for numerous conversations both in and out of the classroom. And also for showing me how theory can be pushed to the limits by means of an avant-garde practice. I would also like to thank John Leavey for his time outside of seminar and official office hours over the course of several semesters to help me work through such thinkers as Nancy, Deleuze, Spinoza and Hegel. Finally, and above all, I would like to thank Julian Wolfreys, both my mentor and friend, for providing me with professional opportunities and a rigor that exceeded my best-case expectations of what iii


graduate school could be! Julian has provided ample rigor (and humor) to challenge me and shape my project and intellectual development. In addition to his time, Julian quite generously invited me to contribute articles to scholarly collections, as well as providing me (and many of his other students) with ample dinners and red wine. I could not possibly ask for more in a chair or friend. iv


TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iii ABSTRACT......................................................................................................................vii CHAPTER 1 CITY LIMITS: HUMANIST ENDS............................................................................1 Introduction...................................................................................................................1 Auto-Immunity: Community’s Attack on “diffrance.”...............................................5 Limits of Humans.........................................................................................................6 Towards an Ethics of the Political................................................................................8 A Brief Chapter Overview..........................................................................................13 2 ANIMALITY: NOTES TOWARDS A MANIFESTO..............................................17 Che(z) Heidegger: Political Ontology........................................................................17 “The Reversal of Platonism”......................................................................................23 Che to Heidegger........................................................................................................35 “The Powers of the False”..........................................................................................37 DIOGENES: Destroying the (Cultural) Currency of (Institutional) Truth................40 The Limits of Heidegger and Che..............................................................................49 3 LEVINAS: ETHICS IN THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF CRITICISM............................54 Introduction.................................................................................................................54 Relation: Ethics and Ontology....................................................................................59 Saying and Said..........................................................................................................69 On Art and Rhetoric....................................................................................................73 4 NANCY......................................................................................................................82 Introduction: the Singularity of Sarajevo...................................................................82 “being-with” Heidegger and Nancy............................................................................88 Later, Heidegger.........................................................................................................92 Laibach and Ulysses’ Gaze: Towards a Praxis of Interruption.................................104 Ecotechnics, City and Singularity.............................................................................109 Inoperative Communities..........................................................................................113 v


5 SARAJEVO, OR THE PROPER NAME OF THE BALKANS..............................119 The Testimony of Laibach........................................................................................120 Laibach and the Situationists—Staging Mimesis.....................................................129 Laibach: Towards a Minor Literature.......................................................................131 Example One: Art Demands Fanaticism..................................................................137 Example Two: “to-come”.........................................................................................141 Ulysses’ Difference..................................................................................................143 Example Three: Flickering and Bearing Witness.....................................................146 Postscript: Animalities “to-come”...........................................................................148 LIST OF REFERENCES.................................................................................................150 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH...........................................................................................154 vi


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy TOWARD AN ETHICS OF THE POLITICAL By Frederick John Young August, 2004 Chairman: Julian Wolfreys Major Department: English In the dissertation, “Toward an Ethics of the Political,” I take the classical Greek conception of the political, and following Jean-Luc Nancy’s work, Being Singular Plural, investigate how the concept of the political and philosophy are part and parcel of the idea of the city, the problem of ontology. At stake, how the idea of the political as understood as a classical notion of the city might be rethought within a postmodern framework, where the re-emergence of ethics, or that Emmanuel Levinas calls “an ethics of ethics,” has become crucial in challenging Western metaphysics. Important to re-conceiving the idea of a city, is to challenge the humanist and ontological assumptions inherent within it. The importance of such a project resides in a critique of violence, i.e., logic of ontology, humanism and the city. In light of the classical idea of a city is the site of political ontology, I explore the problem of ethics and performativity as a way of transgressing or exceeding the ontological constraints of a classical city. I ground this study by taking Sarajevo and the violence of the Balkan War vii


as a metaphor for the failure and restrictions of a classical city. I approach the question of the Balkans through various and diverse sources, from the avant-garde Balkan groups Laibach and Neue Slovenische Kunst (NSK), to the films of Theo Angelopoulos, to the work of the French philosopher, Jean-Luc Nancy. In addition to the aesthetic and philosophical critiques of the city, I also test the limit case of the philosophical concept of the human, and show, by means of the animal, that the human is a restrictive classical concept whose time has come to an end. Finally, I explore how a postmodern city would involve a heterogeneous exposition of multiple singularities in excess of the ontology and binary of man and animal. viii


CHAPTER 1 CITY LIMITS: HUMANIST ENDS Introduction In his introduction to the Yale French Studies special issue on Blanchot, Thomas Pepper takes to task the so called death of high theory and offers how such proclamations suggest not so much a intellectual endeavor or critique, but rather a reactive calculation of the academic market place, of yet another safe articulation of a “regional ontology” in the newest forms of multiculturalism and identity politics. Of yet another humanism in the grammar. Pepper states: Now the very mention of names such as Blanchot, Heidegger, de Man—I need not go on—provokes a kind of nostalgia or a hateful sense of relief at a pastness of the past that should, according to the laws of the American populist anti-intellectual marketplace of ideas, never happen again. Plunge a corps perdu into the abyss of reflection on language are not the rage; one might in fact say that a sort of fundamental ontological inquiry that thrived briefly in departments in the United States has given way to an apparently never-ending series of ever more manic attempts to corner the market with offerings of regional ontologies, usually known under the names of various kinds of identity politics. (1) Pepper’s articulations speak of a backlash to the theoretical experimentation and rigor that emerged in American literary departments during the 1970s and 1980s, as well as, perhaps, a nostalgia for the good old times of critical theory. Such a nostalgic position, of course, would have nothing to do with reading. One need only be reminded of Jean-Francois Lyotard’s phrase, “Share collectively the nostalgia for the unattainable.” What Pepper so skillfully, and might I add rightfully, brings together in the above passage is how a rather predictable anti-intellectual left has begun to replace the “theorists” with new modes of old thinking oblivious to the conservative philosophical 1


2 underpinnings that already name them in advance. To put this differently, academic trends such as multiculturalism and some aspects of cultural studies that followed theory, at least chronologically, assumed quite naive and reactive philosophical positions thereby ignoring underlying assumptions, or worse yet, borrowing from philosophers without really taking the time to read them. One need only be reminded of Paul de Man’s infamous statement directed at the “theory-phoebes” of his time, that “it’s amazing how many people have never read their master,” referring to their unwitting Hegelian assumptions. What de Man referred to back then, and what stills holds sway, is a call for a more nuanced look at the very underpinnings that are part and parcel of any formal(ist) articulation, of an ontological position that speaks the speaker before he or she speak, so to speak. The point here is not to bring back the ghost of de Man, but rather to think about how a certain left, a multicultural left, reacted to that fall of de Man and Heidegger. Certainly, nobody would support the sentiments of the young de Man for his journalist writings in Le Soir, nor the silence that lasted beyond his death. Nor, for that matter, would anyone defend Heidegger’s more damning and noxious involvement with National Socialism.1 However, and critically, what is missed within a so-called multicultural left, to which Pepper refers, is that such a left, the very structure of their political foundations, as opposed to a particular political position or articulation, carries within it a far more slight and sinister totalitarian gesture than meets the eye. What really becomes at stake, however furtively harbored and seemingly intractable within a multiculturist left, is the manner in which they preserve and rearticulate a humanism within their positions. This humanism, which both de Man and Heidegger sought to ex1 In fact, to further qualify, much important work regarding the singularity of each of cases of de Man and Heidegger was fought out in journals, newspapers, books, etc. in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.


3 pose, albeit in much different ways, was able to creep back into academy by means of a safe and liberal “sincerity.” A little further on in the Blanchot essay, Pepper further articulates the current affair of the university: Capital, by the byways of clouds of administrators (one is reminded of Bataille on the village wedding of philosophy, of Kafka and of Benjamin on him), has produced a situation of multimedia numbness in which everything has to be done quickly: dissertations, books, articles, in short, production. In the university—which has never, any in case, been particularly hospitable to anything passionate or original—this is the time of the reign of the hordes of vice-presidents, provosts, deans, and development officers. (2) While it would be unfair, or at least premature at this point to collapse a new humanism, i.e., multiculturalism, with an acceleration of modern production and regulating the banality of ideas by means of what Jacques Derrida has referred to as “auto-immunization,” what is apparent at this juncture is the calculation of the marketplace, of a place that has no place for the likes of Bataille, Benjamin or Kafka, at least not in any serious manner. One could certainly say (and has said) a similar thing regarding Marx or Derrida. It is precisely this calculative and institutional logic that reduces “life” to a mere number, something that Heidegger had warned of decades before.2 One major aspect that I shall be arguing in the dissertation is that humanism is totalitarianism. As long as the concept of “man” remains intact, as long as such a classical ontology3 remains within any practical or theoretical engagement, any leftist movement that unwittingly inherits or conjures such positions speaks a form of totalitarianism. Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, in his rigorous text, Heidegger: Art and 2 It would be interesting to follow this trajectory of Spinoza’s critique of the” number” itself as a false way of conceiving negativity, or the role of negation within dialectics and the mathmatico-ontological tradition. Such an abstract gesture, for Spinoza, assumes a moment of transcendence outside of the world, thereby invoking yet another modality of nihilism into a otherwise incalculable “life.” 3 See Plotnitsky


4 Politics, stated that “National Socialism is a humanism.” In this regard, we must begin to think carefully about how humanism, regardless of how humane, contains within it the possibility of the logic of the camps. What becomes critical is the manner in which humanism has recovered from its attacks and has again reinscribed itself within the university and, of course, continues to roam at large. In his work The Coming Community, Giorgio Agamben expresses the way in which fascism and Nazism have never really left us: If we had once again to conceive of the fortunes of humanity in terms of class, then today we would have to say that there are no longer social classes, but just a single planetary bourgeoisie, in which all the old social classes are dissolved: The petty bourgeoisie has inherited the world and is the form in which humanity has survived nihilism. But this is also exactly what fascism and Nazism understood, and to have clearly seen the irrevocable decline of the old social subjects constitutes their insuperable cachet of modernity. (From a strictly political point of view fascism and Nazism have not been overcome, and we still live under their sign.) (63) In this pivotal work on community, Agamben shows that fascism and Nazism have not, in fact, been overcome, but rather we still live under their sign. Implicated within such a position is the humanism of the petty bourgeoisie that “has inherited” the world and has maintained within itself, the very logic of the fascism. And when we begin to take seriously the sentiments of Jacques Derrida and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe that National Socialism is a humanism, then critical becomes the question of how to overcome and how to examine how such a totalitarian mode of thinking has had and continues to have such a hold on modernity. And finally, to begin to examine and work through the problem of humanism. It really becomes a matter of taking Thomas Pepper’s call, among others, to again take seriously theory and begin to see the limit-cases of humanism in order to move beyond them. In this regard, theory’s repetition always has


5 the possibility of opening up a radical difference, albeit in the institution which welcomed it in order to domestic it, or within the broader landscape of community. Auto-Immunity: Community’s Attack on “diffrance.” In Acts of Religion Derrida introduces the concept of “auto-immunity” to explain how institutions take just a dose of radical thought in order to immunize themselves from the implications and consequences of difference in order to maintain their own ‘conservative’ interests. If we take seriously Pepper’s disgust at the “manic” attempts at other yet another “regional ontology” of identity politics or multiculturalism, what becomes obfuscated is the problem of difference. Why domesticate diffrance? Because such an operation deconstructs the economy of any community, whether institutional or otherwise. Community demands unity, demands the reinscription of difference back into the Same. Pivotal to such a community is the human being, or really the concept of the human being and we shall see. What really is at stake, then, is a question of community, of how to conceive of a community without unity. Such a project is of course, already under way with Nancy, Blanchot and Agamben. In the necessary trajectory of this project it is not possible to address each thinker; instead, I therefore focus on Nancy alone. Any deconstruction of community must always take into account the very foundation of what constitutes a community in Western thinking. Nancy’s work on such questions in The Inoperative Community and Being Singular Plural are crucial texts that factor into this study. To put this another way, I am interested in how a repetition of difference could show the limit-case of community, and open up the possibility of conceiving of community as something without ontology.


6 It is Nancy in Being Singular Plural that demonstrates the origin of city (human community) as being both the philosophical and political. Together this is ontology per excellence. In such a manner, the political and philosophy for the Greeks, are of the Same fabric and inextricably weaved together. The urgency of Nancy’s philosophical mediation on community and the city has to do directly with the problem of humanism and violence, and how the two are inextricably connected. Nancy demands of the reader that “Sarajevo is our Auschwitz,” (hence my focus on Laibach and Ulysses’ Gaze in the final chapter), and that we must bear witness to the violence, because the city of Sarajevo is also the city of philosophy as long as its citizens remain “frozen” in time. In effect, as war breaks out and the inhabitants of Sarajevo are reduced to “targets,” this violence is not for Nancy a digression from civilization, but rather the mark of humanism itself. To paraphrase, peace is just a interruption of humanism, whose main articulation is that of war. What calls, then, is to begin to test the limits of this philosophically conceived city, which is not just a politics within a specific historical situation, nor even a specific political system, i.e., socialist or capitalist, but also politics itself; political ontology can best be conceived as the city. Limits of Humans One of the critical aspects I examine in the dissertation involves the limit-case of what constitutes a human being by looking at the concept of the animal as it has been conceived, or some might even say arrested, in philosophical discourse. I turn to the poststructuralist thinkers such a Jacques Derrida and Gilles Deleuze to explore ways in which animality is a thorn in the side of the philosophical that not only won’t let go, but also moves beyond the body of philosophy itself. This becoming-animality is marked at certain different historical moments by thinkers as diverse as Walter Benjamin, Diogenes


7 and Friedrich Nietzsche. While I am not proposing readings of these, nonetheless they inform thinking the animal in the relation I trace between being, singularities, and the city, from within and against humanist discourse. I should pause here a moment to clarify that there is not some origin of animality as a counter-tradition in any positive or phenomenological sense. In fact, it is tradition itself that is tied to the origin. As Michel Foucault declares about the notion of tradition, [I]t is intended to a give a special temporal status to a group of phenomena that are both successive and identical (or at least similar); it makes it possible to rethink the dispersion of history in the form on the same; it allows a reduction of difference proper to every beginning, in order to pursue without discontinuity the endless search for origin . . . Then there is the notion of influence, which provides a support . . . which refers to an apparently causal process[in which there is to be seen] . . . the phenomena of resemblance and repetitionThere are notions of development and evolution; they make it possible to . . . link [event] to one and the same organizing principle . . . to discover already at work in each beginning, a principle of coherence and the outline of a future unity, to master time through a perpetually reversible relation between an origin and a term that are never given, but which are always at work. (88) With the limit-case of animality, what we have and shall see is neither origin nor a counter-tradition but what Nietzsche would call “untimely.” Animality’s becomings, to put this in a ridiculous possessive, is tied to the notion of affirmation that in the light of a Platonic city, of the humanist tradition, and the ontology of the political. Becoming unworks the nihilism and violence of the inner logic of the Platonic tradition, of the origin, and one might add, of the institution. In addition to animality, the limit-case of humanism will also be explored in the ethical turn opened up by Emmanuel Levinas. Ethics seen in the light of performativity, rather than as a branch of ontology, become critical in thinking of inhuman cities, which I further develop through readings of Nancy. The end of the study, very much in the “spirit” of Benjamin, turns towards the artists to


8 see if there is not already at work such inhuman cities and concepts offering a counter-intuitive challenge to the violence of metaphysics. Towards an Ethics of the Political With the following in mind, what is at stake is the very possibility of the human, or how to rethink the direction of a new subject in the light of so-called post-structuralist philosophy. In order to work toward a post-human subject, which takes as a necessary movement from the political to the ethical, I will focus on specific ways, or again, limit-cases in which the Cartesian, or humanist subject (as well as Heidegger’s Dasein) is being challenged by a refiguring of animality, technology and performativity. What calls, with the destruction, or end of metaphysics as seen through the crisis in philosophy, science and the arts in the 20th Century, is a way of refiguring the human, of offering a new mode of understanding what a human is and how the human (as classically received) relates to technology, animality and the performativity. In the first chapter, I examine the limit-cases of humanism by means of reading how Che Guevara, Heidegger and Diogenes understand the animal, and how this informs the understanding of the political, which, as I show, opens up the question of ethics. This then brings me to the next chapter in which I will focus on how and why the central way of grasping a post-humanism is really a question of ethics, of an ethics not grounded within philosophical ontology (albeit Platonic or Heideggerian), but rather, taking Levinas as a cue, opens up a performativity that exceeds and is ‘before’ any question of being. With Levinas’s ethics, then, as a starting point, I will open up (drawing off of Derrida, Nancy, Deleuze), how a performative ethics (“a theory that would run on wheels”-Derrida) is really a transformation of political itself, of a politics without ontology. Keeping in mind the Greek conception of philosophy in which the polis and the city are the political, as Nancy


9 develops this in Being Singular Plural, provide the foundations for moving toward a more radical way of understanding the city. In the case of Levinas, I will look to see his own limits involving the positing of a transcendent “wholly other” as well as certain patriarchal constraints in his concept of God, despite the fact that such articulates the limits in Heideggerian ontology. Intrinsic to the construction of the human is politics itself. But classical conceptions of politics are beginning to give way as their foundations come into question, on the one hand, through various critiques such as Negri, Deleuze, Nancy to name a few, as well as Heidegger’s challenge of the very foundation of ontology as articulated in Being and Time. On the other hand, a political humanism carried itself out in the politics on National Socialism as Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe states in a number of different texts regarding the case of Heidegger. What perhaps calls now following such thinkers as Heidegger, Derrida, Nancy and Deleuze is a new way of conceiving, or, really, transforming the classical subject, the human. I believe, at least one place in this introduction, to begin before we move on to the dissertation, in the body of which the question of Dasein will return on several occasions, is with Heidegger’s articulation of Dasein and the problematics and dangers it opens up in relation to the human, technology and the animal. While Heidegger is certainly not the first philosopher to explore such questions, I believe it is his own political failures in terms of National Socialism that bring to light the urgency of Giorgio Agamben’s observation, that “fascism and Nazism” has not left us and that we still live under their sign4 .The question becomes, then, of realizing not only the human, with its ontological foundations, but also its relation to the 4 See The Coming Community


10 animal (any life that is not human) and technology, which, as I will argue in the dissertation, are interrelated and form natural hierarchy in which both the animal and technology are means to an end for man. Why a new political? And what would such a political look like? Crucial to this requires following Heidegger’s conception of a ‘destruction’ of classical, or Platonic ontology, in favor of a “fundamental ontology” that opens a crisis in philosophy and the humanities and exposes the very connection between ontology and politics; in fact, for Heidegger and Nancy, though in much different ways, one cannot speak of one without simultaneously speaking of the other—the polis is the human and visa versa. Nancy’s insight, again, is to understand the city as the site of the philosophical and political. Heidegger becomes a crucial marker for the possibility of a transformation of the political precisely because he opens up such radical possibilities for a post-humanism, and yet, simultaneously embraces National Socialism. Whether one would want to let Heidegger off the hook for being nave about politics, as he claims, is not the central question here. Rather two limit-cases, at least two, of Heidegger’s thinking throw him back into humanism. First, he misses the question of the animal. Second, as will be seen in “Building Thinking Dwelling,” Heidegger’s blind spot will be his failure to recognize the classical and Platonic inscription of the city haunting his own thought. Engaging the problems of humanism, Heidegger does not follow through with the Pandora’s Box of what he exposes—he turns his back on the exposure of a post-humanism and retreats in nostalgia for a being before metaphysics; to put this less abstractly, a political fascism emerges with Dasein in 1933. I would want to be cautious here and not simply equate the Dasein of Being and Time with the Dasein of the Rektoratsrede, but rather to keep in


11 mind that Dasein seems to move with little effort from the one to the many.5 For this project, it is precisely this early Heidegger of Being and Time and the Rektoratsrede that demands close attention to understand how a conception of politics is also an articulation of Nation, human and city. Heidegger, as is well documented, embraced, or at least supported National Socialism; to further complicate matters, he challenges Nationalism Socialism over its fidelity to humanism. In the words of Lacoue-Labarthe, Heidegger is more National Socialist than the National Socialists. Of course, I ‘m certainly not advocating Heidegger’s path here, but rather it’s crucial to understand the politics of Dasein and to read closely how it, as a fundamental critique of the Cartesian subject (the human) by means of ‘world,’ becomes the Dasein of the German People in the Rektoratsrede just a few years after Being and Time. We must closely follow this classical movement from singular Dasein to plural Dasein—and how, unlike Nancy, or Deleuze for that matter, Heidegger classically moves between the one and the many—a political ontology, an articulation, really, of the city as understood by the Greeks. Heidegger represents on one hand, a critique of humanism, and then, perhaps moves into something far more sinister than humanism. And yet, even in National Socialism, humanism remains as can be seen in the very “logic” of the camps as a method of numbers and calculations6. National Socialists bypassed the event, the unspeakable trauma and horror of the holocaust by means of reducing life itself to 5 For a crucial philosophical reading of the Rektoratsrede, see Lacoue-Labarthe is “Transcendent Ends in Politics.” Lacoue-Labarthe is very careful not to fall into a facile reading of Heidegger’s political speeches and suggests the absolute importance of reading Heidegger against Heidegger. 6 Please see Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer for a detailed and brilliant articulation of how the camps and humanism are related to one another.


12 calculation—what’s important is to critically engage in how such a programme was also an epistemology. My interest in ethics is to follow an ethical turn that can be seen in Levinas’s critique of Heideggerian ontology, of the polis of thought. Levinas offers a radical reading of Heidegger that privileges the ethical “before” any ontology. Thus, his ethical is not classical in that it could be grasped or conceived as a formal branch of ontology, i.e., with ethics, metaphysics, logic and epistemology, but rather calls the whole project of philosophy into question. As Derrida states, “Levinas offers an Ethics of Ethics,” which becomes more radical than Heidegger because there is a performative aspect to it. Levinas’s ethical is outside both Platonic and Heideggerian ontology. This ethics exceeds any notion of any ethics that is or could be formally conceived within philosophy proper. With Levinas, I want to see if ethics offers a transformation of the political. If politics is classically ontological, how can an ethics in a Levinasian sense offer a more radical possibility of the political? An inhuman politics? What would a politics “be” without being, without ontology? In order to fully explore such questions, and move towards an ethics of the political, of an ethics and politics nonclassically, it will be necessary to investigate in depth, three possible wild cards that have, in a sense, already started the process on its way. The first way to get beyond the classical humanist subject involves performativity, of a performative movement that can no longer be conceived in classical ontology, but rather this movement exceeds the limits of the classical itself. In addition to the performative is the question of the animal. Traditionally both the human and animal share bios (life) and from this an established hierarchy is put in order. However, following such thinkers as Derrida, Nancy and Deleuze, the relation that holds


13 together the hierarchy is in the process of deconstructing. Animality, as I will show, is a “becoming” that traverses the static hierarchy of humanism, of the ontological foundation that grounds human and animal. By examining performativity, animality, as well as looking at Nancy’s notion of “ecotechnics,” there emerges a new possibility of conceiving of a non-humanist subject, of offering a new ethics and transformation of the political, in effect, an inhuman city. A Brief Chapter Overview In the chapter, “Animality: Notes Towards a Manifesto,” I explore the question of how animality, what Derrida calls the “new humanities to-come,” traverses and complicates certain transcendental limits in the humanist revolutions in Nazi Germany and Cuba. I proceed to do a close reading of Heidegger and Che, two representatives of political movements in the 20th Century that are locked into humanism. This will show how Heidegger’s thinking and Che is actions reach a limit point in terms of the animal. As stake is not simply a dog (but instead of the “becoming-dog” of Diogenes and Nietzsche), that reflects back the very limitation that Heidegger and Che is respective revolutions could offer based on a conception of the human-ism. What becomes critical is how Heidegger, Che, Diogenes and Nietzsche all, in drastically different ways, produce specific interruptions or shocks to their specific historical contexts. In the chapter on Levinas, I examine Heidegger’s critique of ontology and articulate Dasein as fundamental ontology. From there, I look at Levinas’s more radical ethics and performativity as a critique of Heideggerian political ontology. Here in the ethics of Levinas, and his positing of a “wholly other” before any ontology is possible, and also in excess of any traditional branch of philosophy that would tempt to restrict ethics within as one possible aspect of philosophy in its greater ontology, I begin to offer


14 glimpses into the critique of the political, and signal the ethical turn in Continental philosophy. In the chapter on Nancy, I offer a close reading of Being Singular Plural and The Inoperative Community. It is Nancy who moves beyond the interruptive shocks of Heidegger, Che and Levinas’s patriarchal gendering of God as a transcendent “wholly other.” At the same time, Nancy also recuperates the Nietzschean as well as the Diogenic, and opens the way for a more radical reading beyond interruptive shocks to what might be called a “transformative critique.” In such a manner, Nietzsche and Diogenes are refolded back into the midst of Nancy’s crucial articulations of community and singularity as exemplars of thinking the concept of the city outside of the registers and arrested of political ontology. Thus, it can be stated that these readings of Nancy’s radically transform of what a human is. Notions such as “co-existence” will begin to offer a politics without classical ontology, drawing intersections and parallels to Deleuze’s notions of assemblage, and becomings-animality. The final chapter offers close reading of performance art and film by means of examining ways in which the classically conceived notion of the city might be refigured and transformed into heterogeneous encounters between singularities, opening of memories, and what Benjamin has referred to as “material historiography,” as a counter-signature to the interpellative demands of the transcendental and humanist demands about the citizen subject, and its abstract city. In such a way, the figure of animality, as I will show, responds as a counter-signature to the abstract city of metaphysics, the “historicism’s” classical domain.” Animality in this light becomes an epistemological rupture of what Benjamin understood as “historicism” or empty historical time. I will


15 focus group Laibach and the film Ulysses’ Gaze to explore (based off the ideas developed in the previous chapters) what the transformation of an ethics of the political might look like. Both Laibach and Ulysses’ Gaze. will be read in the context of the Balkan War. As Nancy states, “Sarajevo is our Auschwitz.” I will explore the figural challenges of these artistic projects to see how Sarajevo might be read as a nonclassical city—the possible emergence of a new political. I am thinking in particular of how in classical philosophy that politics and city are philosophy (Nancy.) In other words, a city not based on the human-polis as Same, but rather offers an ethics of a new politics, of an inhuman polis of difference, of assemblages, co-existences, of what Nancy describes as “being-singular plural”—what is at stake is a nonclassical city ‘to come.” In others words, I will explore how one might read Sarajevo against the grain of a humanist notion of a city, and open up, based off the previous chapters, a new way of understanding a city, or perhaps, really, cities of singularities, assemblages, of a “co-existence” that unworks the human subject(ed) of a classically conceived city. In particular I will examine Laibach’s seeming appropriation of Stalin and Hitler, both humanisms, left and right, and how Laibach is actually offering something more radical than identification (which is how iek reads them dialectically)—what will begin to emerge is a politics without identity—a performativity, an ethics outside of ontology that exceeds the limits of their own performances. Likewise, I will look at Ulysses’ Gaze to how this modern Odyssey repeats differently to offer an alternative to the (humanist) violence that it testifies to. It will be a question of the history of the Balkans and the event itself of the lost films. In both these projects, the proper name (also


16 a question of humanism) of the Balkans and Sarajevo will be challenged in order to see the emergence of how memory and haunting open up an ethics of the political.


CHAPTER 2 ANIMALITY: NOTES TOWARDS A MANIFESTO Let her dress up like a dog as the cynic does...It is essential for philosophy at this stage to put on the actors' masks. --Karl Marx The one who parodied Ecce Homo tries to teach us to laugh again by plotting, as it were, to let loose all the animals within philosophy. --Jacques Derrida Trotting animal where the word clicked shut. --Paul Celan Che(z) Heidegger: Political Ontology In this chapter, I propose to explore the limits of humanistic discourse at those places where what is most at stake--an ethics of the other--is precisely forgotten or falls into the unthought. I take as this place of crisis, and the crisis which takes place in thought, or as the fall from thought, the singular example of the animal. In looking at this question of what remains unread in any ethics grounded in humanism, whether implicitly or explicitly, whether from a political left or from some other traditional political location all too easily reappropriable to conventional right-wing thought, the animal lacks a truly ethical articulation, and thus is the singular figure for the abject other of ethical thinking conventionally received. Therefore, I will explore two particular textual examples of the discourse of the animal within the context of political and philosophical thought, specifically in the writing of Che Guevara and Martin Heidegger. At the same time, I will also be drawing on the critiques of Giorgio Agamben, in The Open, and Jacques Derrida, in Of Spirit and elsewhere, in an effort to open to critical reception a thinking of the 17


18 animal that moves beyond humanist discourse, thereby laying the ground for a discussion of the other, of bearing witness, and related ethical dimensions that will be continued in chapter two in the analysis of the work of Emmanuel Levinas. As Derrida and Agamben help to open up the discourse of the animal in philosophy, it is the tricksters of philosophy, Diogenes and Nietzsche that move in and out of philosophy without any fidelity to it. Who else could Agamben be referring to in The Coming Community, “Tricksters or fakes, assistance or toons, they are the exemplars of the coming community.” Nietzsche and Diogenes de-essentialize the role of identity in philosophy calling into question the false distinction between the human and the animal. Following this outrageous and unsubstantiated claim, this dissertation proposes to take seriously how such exemplars by means of the “letting all the animals in philosophy roam free,” signal the coming community. But first, to the animal: The question becomes, then, What is at stake, or, who’s at the stake, with the question of the animal and animality? What could Martin Heidegger and Che Guevara possibly have in common in relation to animality? At stake is problematics of politics, institution, mimesis and the human. Both were active to varying degrees in twentieth century revolutions, Che, on the left hand, with the Marxist Cuban revolution, and, Heidegger, on the right hand, with the National Socialist Revolution1. Both Heidegger and Che passively inherit and assume a humanist and metaphysical project of what an 1 Of course, Heidegger’s history and involvement with National Socialism is quite complicated—and I am not, in the least, trying to reduce the thought of Heidegger to the major tenants of National Socialism. And to simply suggest that there is some chronological inevitability to Heidegger’s thought is, of course, reductive in that it doesn’t even begin to address or read Heidegger. I find the works of thinkers such as Jacques Derrida and Philipe Lacoue-Labarthe to be quite convincing. Which, of course, is not to say there is simply one Heidegger for Derrida, etc. My interest is to explore what Heidegger’s relation to the animal. I find Derrida’ s engagement with Heidegger over the question of animality fascinating in regards to what’s at stake for the subject, the university, the human, etc.


19 animal is and determine or ontologize the animal in advance. A moment occurs within Heidegger’s thinking and Che is actions in which the animal, specifically a dog2, is ontologized through the violent process of naming, by calling or determining the animal as such. As Jacques Derrida states in “The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow),” “The animal, what a word! The animal is a word, it is an appellation that men have instituted, a name they have given themselves the right and the authority to give another living creature (Derrida 2002, 392) In essence, Heidegger and Che take on the humanist project and the left and right share the Same economy, the mimetology of the Same political and metaphysical logic. Of course, for Heidegger, being ontologized would be scandalous, while Che probably could not have cared less. However, at stake is an economy in which an exchange between them takes place, an agreed upon currency (a coinage of truth-as-metaphysics) through the ontologizing of an event, both literal and figural, of a violence towards, and an arrest of, the animal that marks a moment of transcendence that “ends in politics”3—a humanistic and traditional inheritance of the name and concept of “animal.” In A Thousand Plateaus Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari explode the philosophical concept of the animal. They speak of the animal, or “becomings-animal” traversing the human beings and sweeping them away, affecting the animal no less than the human.” (237) Here we are speaking of concepts, proper names being swept away. The “becomings-animality” can be tied to a notion of “the powers of the false,” which 2 In early 1980 the Shining Path (Sendero Luminso) of Peru, headed by a former philosopher professor began their movement by hanging dead dogs from lampposts—a humanist revolution which inherits a philosophical concept of the animal as less than “man.” 3 See Philipe Lacoue-Labarthe is “Transcendent Ends in Politics.”


20 will deal with in full in a moment, as an challenge to conceiving at face value the Platonic inheritance of an ontological determination of the animal. Platonic cities, however democratic or Republic(an), continue to haunt the West, regulating and assigning ‘living beings’ their proper place—an “economimesis.” It is worth noting here the Derridean deconstruction already taking place within the economy and hierarchy of the human/animal. In such a manner, “Society and the State need animal characteristics to use for classifying people.” (239) This is what Che and Heidegger miss, inscribing themselves back into the conservative notion of the State through something as politically “ridiculous” believing in the animal as a fixed idea. Instead of a State economy, a Platonic ontology and transcendent republic informing all hierarchies, Deleuze and Guattari cut through such system of classification. There is an entire politics of becomings-animal...which is elaborated in assemblages that are neither those of the family or of religion nor of the State. Instead, they express minoritarian groups, or groups that are oppressed, prohibited, in revolt, or always on the fringe of recognized institutions, group all the more secret for being extrinsic, in other words, anomic. If becoming-animal takes the form of a Temptation, and of monsters aroused in the imagination by the demon, it is because it is accompanied, at its origin as in its undertaking, by a rupture with the central institutions that have established themselves or seek to become established. (247) It is precisely the “becomings-animal” that Che and Heidegger are unable to grasp, or the only that they know how to grasp by means of the hand—the hand-me downs of classical thought. Lacking in both their accounts of the dog is the question, or rather, performativity of animality, which we’ll get to in a moment. Stealing from The Logic of Sense, we have the tragic impulse of Empedocles in both Che and Heidegger, what Deleuze describes as


21 subversion4, perhaps a revolutionary process of sorts, caught within a contestation of a Platonic economy--subverting the converting in order to convert itself back to Conversion—the abstract Truth of metaphysics. Deleuze asserts that “the Platonic conversion... corresponds [to] the pre-Socratic subversion (Deleuze 1990, 129).” In The Logic of Sense, Deleuze speaks of a correspondence between Empedocles and Socrates, between the “hammer blow” and the wings of Platonism. Empedocles stayed in the cave, “smashing statues” and “philosophized with a hammer (Deleuze 1990, 128)” while Platonism had wings. Between the depths of the pre-Socratic cave and the heights of Platonism is a restricted economy—an exchange between the subversive depths and the Platonic heights—the verticality of manic-depression. Crucially both share a logic, both subscribe to an economy of exchange, a fixed unventilated context, both share the same axiomatics. No height without depth, no depth without height: the nostalgia of Essence. Within this metaphysics, the surface is never thought, never taken seriously. In part, Deleuze turns to Diogenes and Nietzsche, to the animal, the Diogenic anecdotes, and the surface that exceeds, confronts and ignores Platonism. This is a reorientation of all thought and of what it means to think: there is no longer any depth or height. The Cynic and the Stoic sneers against Plato are many. It is always a matter of unseating the Ideas, of showing that incorporeal is not high above (en hauteur), but is rather at the surface, that it is not the highest case but the superficial effect par excellence, and that it is not Essence but event. (Deleuze 1990,130). 4 In the appendix of the Logic of Sense, Deleuze also speaks of Conversion, the Platonic, as well as of the Perversion, a Nietzschean project involving the ‘power of the false.’ Both the Subversive and Conversive are, in a sense, caught within an exchange, the Same old philosophical Platonic economy.


22 A certain buildup of intensities, a dog event and overdetermined, “the animals roaming let loose in philosophy,” not the named essence, dog5. Because, It is no longer a question of organs and functions, and of a transcendent Plane that can preside over their organizations only by means of analogical relations and types of divergent development. It is a question not of organization but of composition; not of development or differentiation but of movement and rest, speed and slowness. (255) Heidegger and Che essentialized the dog (which we’ll show in a moment), missing the animality, the performativity of surface. They arrest the “becoming-animal” and essentialize it within humanist hierarchy—they missed the “surface” and remain in the highs and lows of Platonism, the logical modes of what Deleuze calls the “manic depressive” modalities of heights and depths of Platonic thought. They, in fact, can only think of bodies as empirical units. Quite understandable for Che, who was a medical doctor, but Heidegger should know better than let the concept of the body so easily be given over to modern scientific discourse. Deleuze instead calls for a way out, of refiguring philosophy; instead of the conversive/subversive bind, we have the surface: The autonomy of surface, independent of, and against the depth and height which are nonsense; the discovery of incorporeal events, meanings or effects, which are irreducible to “deep” bodies and “lofty” Ideas...(Deleuze 1990,133) For Deleuze, the other philosopher is not Platonic, but rather this philosopher is no longer the being of the caves, nor Plato’s soul or bird, but rather the animal which is on the level of the surface...[of becoming] What are we to call this new philosophical operation, in so far as it opposes at once Platonic conversion and pre-Socratic subversion? Perhaps we can call it “perversion6,” which at least 5 One possible line of overdetermination concerning the dog is the death of the humanist utopian visionary Fleury Colon, who died when he was impaled on a doghouse shaped like a finial after falling off one of his buildings. Colon, a French avant-garde architect in self-imposed exile in Canada, was working on preliminary designs for an “Animal Spaceship” before his tragic death. For a lucid introduction to the life and writings of Colon see Michael Peter’s entry in the Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes edited by Richard Kostelanetz, Routledge 2001. 6 At stake in Deleuze’s concept of perversion is a surface that exceeds or undoes a Freudian economics of perversion is which perversion is a substitute or a turning away from the thing itself. With Deleuze,


23 befits the system of provocations of this new type of philosopher—if it is true that perversion implies an extraordinary arts of surfaces (Deleuze 1990, 133) This philosopher is the “animal of the surface,” velocities and speeds exceeding Platonic economies, the “powers of the false” that “rise to the surface”--we have, in effect, the “nonclassical” Diogenic and Nietzschean “perversions,” the art and becoming of surfaces—the irreducible singularities and “becomings-animality.” “The Reversal of Platonism” “In order to speak of simulacra, it is necessary for the heterogeneous series to really internalized in the system, comprised or complicated in the chaos. Their differences must be inclusive.” --Deleuze Crucial, then is to develop Deleuze’s articulates of the surface, the “reversal of Platonism,” and the “powers of the false.” It is in the Logic of Sense in the appendix, “The Simulacrum and Ancient Philosophy,” that Deleuze asks the question, and takes on the task of “What [it] means to reverse Platonism?” (253) Deleuze immediately identifies this with Nietzsche is project and offers a qualification to the term reversal which might have dialectical and abstract connotations: This formula of reversal has the disadvantage of being abstract; it leaves the motivation of Platonism in the shadows. On the contrary, “to reverse Platonism” must mean to bring this motivation out into the light of day, to “track it down”—the way Plato tracks down a Sophist. (Deleuze 1990, 133) Thus, it is in the spirit of tracking Platonism that Deleuze reads Nietzsche and the Cynics producing the concepts of “the power of the false” and the “surface.” A major insight into Deleuze’s reading of Platonism is to see that, as in the Phaedrus, “the question is about the definition of delirium and, more precisely, about the discernment of the wellperversion is not a moral net or guilt, but rather an affirmation in a Nietzschean and Diogenic sense in which it moves through a restricted economics, or deconstructs the very foundation and assumption of such a position. I will further develop this is the pages that follow.


24 founded delirium or true love. Once again, many pretenders rise up and say, “I am the one, the lover.” (Deleuze 1990, 254) Deleuze make explicit that: The purpose of division then is not at all to divide a genus into species, but, more profoundly, to select lineages: to distinguish pretenders; to distinguish the pure from the impure, the authentic from the inauthentic Platonism is the Odyssey and the Platonic dialectic is neither the dialectic of contradiction nor of contrariety, but a dialectic of rivalry (amphisbetesis), a dialectic of rivals and suitors. The essence of division does not appear in its breadth, in the determination of the species of a genus, but in its depth, in the selection of the lineage. It is to screen the claims (pretensions) and to distinguish the true pretender from the false one. (Deleuze 1990, 254) The task for Plato, then, according to Deleuze, is to distinguish “the true pretender from the false one.” It is in The Sophist that Deleuze sees the secret exposure of “the reversal of Platonism,” that the distinctions between the “true and the false pretender” becomes impossible: [T]the end of The Sophist contains the most extraordinary adventure of Platonism: as a consequence of searching in the direction of the simulacrum and of leaning over the abyss, Plato discovers, in the flash of an instant, that the simulacrum is not simply a copy or false model, but that it places in question the very notions of copy and model. The final definition of the Sophist leads us to the point where we can no longer distinguish him from Socrates himself Was it not Plato himself who pointed out the direction for the reversal of Platonism? (Deleuze 1990, 256) What then becomes critical for Plato in the midst of the “totality of the Platonic motivation: has to do with selecting among the pretenders, distinguishing good and bad copies or, rather, copies (always well-founded) and simulacra (always engulfed in dissimilarity.)” (Deleuze 1990, 257) The aim of Plato involves the “copies over [the] simulacra, of repressing simulacra, keeping them completely submerged, preventing them from climbing to the surface, and “insinuating themselves” everywhere.” (Deleuze 1990, 257) It is precisely the failure of Platonism that marks both the Nietzschean and Diogenic interventions, the force of the simulacra, they are, for Deleuze the philosophers of the surface, the counter-signature of the simulacra, i.e., becomings-animality In this


25 regard, to evoke Althusser, Plato is the cop, policing the economy of copy and arresting or “repressing” the simulacra. The question arises, what is the difference between the copy and the simulacra? It should be noted that the simulacra has nothing to do with Jean Baudrillard’s popular the notion of “simulations” in which, borrowing from Lacan, he speaks of simulation as the collapse between the “imaginary” and the “real” thereby making them indeterminate and, at the same time, making the “symbolic” irrelevant and obsolete.7 It could argued that Baudrillard is a Platonist through and through. In contradistinction to Baudrillard’s simulacra, Deleuze understands the simulacra as different than the Platonic conception of the “copy” or representation as mimetic reflection of the Idea (or God) because “the difference in nature between simulacrum and copy, or the aspect by which they form the two halves of a single division [is that] the copy is an image endowed with resemblance, the simulacrum is an image without resemblance.” (Deleuze 1990, 256) A critical aspect of the embrace of the simulacrum becomes, for Deleuze, the move from God to aesthetics. “God made man in his image and resemblance. Through sin, however, man lost the resemblance while maintaining the image. We have become the simulacra. We have forsaken moral existence in order to enter into aesthetic existence.” (Italics mine) (Deleuze 1990, 257) And the simulacra are also a becoming, “there is in the simulacrum a becoming-mad, or a becoming unlimited.” Becoming is always “more and less a becoming always other, a becoming subversive of the depths, able to evade the equal, the limit, the Same, or the Similar: always more and less at once, but never equal. To impose a limit on this becoming, to order it according to the same, to render it similar is the aim of Platonism.” (Deleuze 1990, 7 See Jean Baudrillard


26 258-9) One can begin to see how both Nietzsche and Diogenes in their becomings-animality are also articulations against the classical ontology of the Same and the Similar, both embrace the simulacra. I cannot overemphasis what I see to be a crucial aspect of the movement from representation and the entire logic of Platonic ontology, in which the “morality” is inscribed within the order of being, to the aesthetic dimension of the simulacra, which exceeds the Platonic trappings of morality and metaphysics. Aesthetics takes on an epistemological dimension, or rather, an epistemology of epistemology in that it is the modality in which Platonism is defeated because the foundations of the polis give way to the surface. In a similar manner, as aesthetic frees itself from the Platonic chains of cave-rhetoric, as Diogenes walking through Athens in broad daylight with a lantern looking for an “honest man” mocks Plato, and always preferring the company of dogs, ethics frees itself from morality, and its performativity rises to the surface as well.8 The manner in which ethics and performativity, as opposed to morality and Platonism, will be further developed in the Levinas chapter. The question still remains as the connection between the simulacra and the surface. How does the simulacra defeat or “reverse Platonism?” It “means to make the simulacra rise and to affirm their rights among the icons and copies. The problem no longer has to do with the distinction Essence-Appearance or Model-Copy. This distinction operates completely within the world of representation. Rather, it has to do with undertaking the subversion of the world—the “twilight of the idols.” The simulacrum is not a degraded copy. It harbors a positive power which denies the original and the copy, the model and the reproduction It is not enough to invoke the model of the Other, for no model can resist the vertigo of the simulacrum There is no possible hierarchy, no second, no thirdThe same and the similar no longer have an essence except as simulated, that is as expressing the functioning of the simulacrum It is the triumph of the


27 false pretender Simulation is the phantasm itself, that is, the effect of the functioning of the simulacrum as machinery—a Dionysian machine. It involves the false as power, Pseudo, in the sense in which Nietzsche speaks of the highest power of the false. By rising to the surface, the simulacrum makes the Same and the Similar, the model and the copy, fall under the power of the false. (Deleuze 1990, 262-3) Critical to the passage above is how the simulacrum is a affirmation in the Nietzschean and Diogenic sense to the extent that it embraces the internal difference within itself, exceeds the economy of a Platonic model. The entire hierarchy implicit within Plato’s caves and republics, becomes undone, by a becoming that affirms its own difference. In becomings-animality, the logic of resemblance collapses, as does the hierarchy implicit within any such system. The Platonic model for arresting the simulacrum cannot be posited outside of the system, as it would need to do by means of transcendence, but lacks foundation as does the simulacrum itself. It is impossible to distinguish between the false pretenders, and to borrow a phrase from Agamben, such “tricksters signal the coming community.” The animal, becoming-animality, rises to the surface in Nietzsche and Diogenes. As the animal can be seen as the sign of the surface for Deleuze, such an animal singularity would signify for Levinas, regardless of how perverse it might sound to an orthodox Levinas scholar, the Absolute Other, because it too marks the same Wholly Other as God. The animal’s silence is like God’s silence. Immediately, Celan’s phrase comes to mind, “You hear the rain/ and think/ this time, too/ it is God.” Or, perhaps in a more everyday light, I am reminded of Derrida’s confession that he feels embarrassed when his cat sees him naked. The only way of differentiating the animal and God, both outside of the discourse of “man,” would be to ignore their very silence and speak for and thus assume a hierarchy of God and animal outside of the ethical relation and response to


28 the silence itself. To put this another way, if one thinks of God at the top of the hierarchy, and animal at the bottom, then both are already economized and fixed into a proper position. To the extent that their positions are grasped, that we fix the animal, their “Wholly Otherness” is lost and domesticated in something knowable, part and parcel of philosophy’s cannibalistic and territorializing impulse. While one might be tempted to scream sacrilege by assigning animality to God within Levinas’s ethics, critical is the place that both occupy as a matter of sense. As will explore in the Levinas chapter, becomings-animality is a respect for the animal. In this sense, depth plays both Che and Heidegger, and they miss read the animal, the Absolute Otherness, the becomings-animality that unworks the reactive forces and economic systems of humanism. As the Diogenic always already haunts and tracks down Platonism whether on the streets or at the Academy, so too Nietzsche haunts Heidegger and Che in relation to the animal and the violent politics of any logic of identity—perhaps the unforeseen Platonic dreams of conversion within the revolution. As Avital Ronell reminds us in “Hitting the Streets,” a “dog’s howl will return, or has already returned, to Nietzsche as the proper name of pain...and [the dog] follows him through the streets [of Turin] in the benevolent guise of a water glass. (Ronell 1994, 67-68)” about the time Nietzsche, on the verge of collapse, “takes the horse in his hands. (Derrida 2002, 403 )” Nietzsche is hands , not the “hand” of Dasein, lend themselves to think the dog, to open up and “let loose all of the animals within philosophy. (Derrida 2002, 403)” Perhaps we have the Diogenic dog haunting and following Nietzsche though the streets—not a mimetic relation between Diogenes and Nietzsche, but rather a strategic “assemblage” of becoming, of the surface that is counter to the abstract negations and mediations of the history they are up against.


29 In this manner, the dog who follows Nietzsche is Nietzschean and already Diogenic, the animals that they have always already “let loose in philosophy” and out into the streets. Perhaps Nietzsche is unable to hold onto himself as he has opened himself through the strictures of metaphysics.9 Perhaps the “pain” and “howl” are too great for anything but collapse. Following Nietzsche, if we can get his drift, perhaps there’s a non-dialectical drive of animality, of his dog’s pain, that moves out into a becoming, offers “lines of flight” on the restricted and regulating streets of “man.” After all Guy Debord himself thought that the drive was a mode of knowledge—perhaps, really, an epistemology of becoming, not being, in the street--a performative theatrics offering the possibility not determination of transformation.10 What I want to suggest is that in spite of Debord’s dialectical positions in his critical work, e.g., The Society of the Spectacle, there is within the very logic and practice of the drive something far more radical than a mediation that would domesticate the secrets, interruptions and chance events that occur in city. . Nietzsche in both thought and action connects with the Situationist practice of the drive, It’s no less a turnabout that the humanist utopian visionary Fleury Colon died when he was impaled on a doghouse shaped like a finial after falling off one of his buildings. Colon, a French avant-garde architect in self-imposed exile in Canada, was working on preliminary designs for an “Animal Spaceship” before his tragic death. For a lucid introduction to life and writings of Colon see Michael Peter’s entry in the Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes edited by Richard Kostelanetz, Routledge 2001. 10 Especially important is Debord’s statement that “the spectacle is a social relation.” The question therefore, would be to think of how to think the very notion of relation ‘against’ a dialectics of relation, of it theorizing a “becoming” counter to being (from Plato to Hegel to Heidegger’s “destruction.”) As Debord states, “Among the various situationist methods is the derive [literally, 'drifting'], a technique of transient passage through varied ambiences. The derive entails playful constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographic effects; which completely distinguishes it from the classical notions of the journey and the stroll...[t]he derive is a form of experimental behavior in an urban society. At the same time as being a form of action, it is a form of knowledge.” (212) (73)


30 and the counter-signature of a city that would exceed the ontological determination of philosophy and city as essentially the Same. The Nietzschean streets, the specifi-city of his own heterogeneous encounters, secrets, and a dog following him through the streets, offers one instant, infrangible to transcendence, of a communication of a singularity, whose vectors touch other singularities, and in turn, and in Turin, hold the secret, to paraphrase Nancy, of a now that repeats itself at each instant differently. The Turin of Nietzsche holds no ontology of a place to be, or of a city that is, but rather opens up a particular memory, an experience that might come to the reader or witness as an ethical response of bearing witness. Nietzsche is one inscription in the Arcade, and what haunts Nietzsche during his breakdown on the streets is the animal. The dog that follows him, and the horse that he embraces while it is being beaten. Kundera suggests that Nietzsche was apologizing to the horse for the advent of Descartes. But in any event, here we could follow yet another trajectory that would take us to the Sarajevo of the Balkan war, in which the Bosnian writer, Aleksandar Hemon, in his novel, Nowhere Man, speaks of a horse during Balkan war who commits suicide, momentarily usurping the role of the human at its most vulnerable and ethical possibility, suicide. We could even extend this to the melancholy horse mocking not only humanism, which Nancy understands as war, but also the philosophical question of suicide as so eloquently put forth by both Camus and Foucault. In this passage, Pronek, the protagonist, while living in exile during the war, receives and then translates into his bad English, a letter from his old friend, Mirza, who bears witness to the animal-suicide: I saw a horse kill himself on Treskavica. We carried this man which had to hold his stomach with hand so it doesn’t fall out. He was screaming all the time, and we must run. But we ran by one unite, they had camp nearby the edge of one cliff—you look down, and it is just one big deep hole in the earth. This man died finally,


31 so we stop to have little water and we are sitting there, we cannot breath. It is so high there is no air. We see their horse, who carried their munition, very skinny and hungry and sad [Up to this point, I am sure Heidegger would agree] The horse goes slowly to the edge, we think he wants some grass there. Some soldiers yell, Come back! But he walks slowly and then he stops on the edge. We watch him three meters away. He turns around, looks at us directly in our eyes, like person, big, wet eyes and then just jumps—hop! He just jumps and we can hear remote echo of his body hitting the stones [weltlos]. I never saw anything so much sad. I am sorry I talk too much. We in Sarajevo have nobody to talk, just each other, nobody wants to listen to these storiesSee I am little crazy. Write meYours, Mirza. (134) In this remarkable passage, the horse of Nietzsche haunts and repeats differently a “now” that exceeds humanism, calling on us, to bear witness to our own violence as it mocks us by taking our role, our choice of ‘to be or not to be.’ This is the first time, to my knowledge, that a horse plays the role of the “Great Dane.” Nancy will further open up the question of the animal, a cat in particular, as it mockingly takes his thoughts from him, disappearing into the bushes, exemplary of “being singular plural.” Also in chapter four, I will explore Nancy’s meditation on how classical philosophy and politics are tired to thinking the city as ontology. In the final chapter the section on Ulysses’ Gaze will also look at a counter-signature to the city (Sarajevo) as political ontology by means of an ethical bearing witness, and a drive that moves counter-intuitively to an ontological determination of the city. In such a way, as we will see, Nietzsche returns eternally to Sarajevo. Back in Turin: The dog (and horse) is Nietzsche is pain, perverse and on the surface. Yet, for Heidegger, the domestic dog, “lacking-in-world,” is a “not yet.” But when? And if it could come, would it not already be invested in the structures of man, of humanism? This also brings up another problem of the humanist visions and productions of the pure breed dog, which, in a sense, is already inscribed and morphed by “man.” By the classification and determination of the proper name “animal” and “dog,” the fantasies


32 and experiments of selective breeding of a humanist project are mobilized—within such a classical hierarchy of living creatures, such practices are normal.11 In “The Animal that therefore I am (more to follow)” Derrida makes explicit the analogy between the camps and animals, There are also animal genocides: the number of species endangered because of man takes one’s breath away . . . One should neither abuse the figure of genocide nor consider it explained away. For it gets complicated here: the annihilation of certain species is indeed in process, but it is occurring through the organization and exploitation of an artificial, infernal, virtually interminable survival, in conditions that previous generations would have judged monstrous, outside of every human norm of a life proper to animals that are thus exterminated by means of their continued existence or overpopulation. As if, for example, instead of throwing people into ovens or gas chambers (let’s say Nazi) doctors and genetics had decided to organize the overproduction and overgeneration of Jews, gypsies, and homosexuals by means of artificial insemination, so that, being more numerous and better fed, they could be destined in always increasing numbers for the same hell, that of the imposition of genetic experimentation or extermination by gas or fire. (Derrida 2002, 17) But I am getting ahead of myself. My interest in animality, following as much a possible Derrida, Deleuze, Diogenes and Nietzsche, is the “non-classical”12 way in which the performativity of dog-as-animality has always already haunted Western metaphysics and the founding of its institutions, revolutions, and violence that such things imply. 11 As a random example, let’s look at the Golden Retriever, who was “invented” by the English Victorian Gentleman, Lord Tweedmouth. By means of selective breeding, that visionary Tweedmouth created the first Golden by breeding Russian circus dogs with a hound. To what extent can we say that a Retriever is simply a dog and not also always already contaminated by man. To what extent, therefore, have these fantasies of selective breeding, the pure breed, always haunted a humanistic and scientific project? When I look at my Golden Retriever am I not already looking a strange hybrid, an animal fully invested and haunted by man? By means of a hierarchy, of man above animal, man is therefore given the right to himself to experiment with the animal. With this in mind, how might the National Socialist project might be thought of as a humanism, that places the same logic used to determine the animal, was in an absolutely horrific and irreducible way, used on humans? When Lacoue-Labarthe says, “National Socialism is a humanism” in relation to the complexity of art and politics in Heidegger, we should really give thought to the dangers and utopia of any humanist project and how it perhaps coincides with fascism. Of course, these are just cursory remarks, and would need further and rigorous investigation. 12 For notion of the “nonclassical” see Plotnitsky, Arkady. “Postmodernism and Postmodernity” Introducing Literary Theories: A Guide and Glossary. Ed. Julian Wolfreys, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2001.


33 And what is Che is encounter with the dog? In his infamous Episodes of the Cuban Revolutionary War, he speaks, or rather makes a poignant confession, about the murder13 of a puppy in the jungles of the Sierra Maestro Mountains. Haggard, traveling through the jungle, Che and his men must keep silent to avoid detection and yet, they are followed by a puppy, their mascot, who will not keep quiet. Che instructs Felix, one of his men, to kill the dog: I remember my emphatic order: “Felix, that dog must stop its howling (emphasis mine) once and for all. You’re in charge; strangle it. There will be no more barking.” Felix looked at me with eyes that said nothing. He and the little dog were in the center of all the troops. Very slowly he took out a rope, wrapped it around the animal’s neck, and began to tighten it...[Later that night]....Felix, while eating seated on the floor, dropped a bone, and a house dog came out meekly and grabbed it up. Felix patted its head, and the dog looked at him. Felix returned the glance, and then he and I exchanged a guilty look. Suddenly everyone fell silent. An imperceptible stirring came over us, as the dog’s meek yet roughish gaze seemed to contain a hint of reproach. There in our presence, although observing us through the eyes of another dog, was the murdered puppy. (Guevara 2001,239-40)14 Guevara is clearly disturbed, in fact, haunted by the eyes of another dog (and we will later take this other dog quite seriously as to its haunting through the performativity of a Nietzschean and Diogenic strategy) by sacrificing the puppy for the sake of the revolution. In fact, “the murdered puppy” was, for Che, actually “present...observing [them] through the eyes of another dog.” But nevertheless, it is necessary to kill the dog (who follows and “howls” at the revolutionaries that they are) for the greater sake of the people’s revolution in Cuba in order for the eventual “world” revolution to encompass all people, and the domination of humanism will occur—all human beings will be equal—the teleological triumph of a mimetic production. 14 See Episodes of the Cuban Revolutionary War


34 Without reducing the complexity of Che to one specific instant, what is important, what I am interested in, is this specific moment in the jungle, this arrest, and violent utilitarian decision to kill the dog—which involves, in advance, a specific understanding and determination of the dog in particular, and, the animal in general— classical categories invested in the inheritance of philosophy. In other words, the dog is named; Che is dog is killed. And yet, Che confesses to feeling a certain guilt at killing the puppy—an honesty quite remarkable in that it submits this ‘murder’ for the eyes of the world to see, examine, and possibly judge. Che, unlike Heidegger who employs a philosophical distance in describing a dog, feels guilty. Heidegger states that the domestic dog “eats with us—and yet, it does not really ‘eat’.” For Heidegger, only Dasein can “eat.” At Che is table, everyone “eating” feels guilty. Che confesses. Che is sad. Che is poor. One is reminded of the old family footage in the film, EL CHE, in which Che as a young child, no more than five years old, is riding on the back of his retriever. Years later, the jungle, the fact that the “murdered puppy” was understood, determined and named through the traditional philosophical and humanistic concept of the “animal,” suggests a violent ontological moment in which the revolutionary reinscribes itself into an economics (and currency) of exchange that is conservative, preservative in advance: a humanist metaphysics—the subversive will attempt to convert to a new State of old philosophical affairs between “man.” At least two crucial operations are at stake here: Che inherits, does not read the philosophical assumptions of the animal, and, by this simple handiwork (zuhandenheit) of strangulation (mea Felix culpa), preserves the economy of a humanistic revolutionary, of “man”—this time animality is in danger--caught in an endless exchange, a “leveling


35 process,” between and within the metaphysical economy of the revolutionary, the tragic, and the conversive promise of the State, the violent founding and inscription of an institutional and metaphysical logic. The manic-depressive oscillation Deleuze speaks of moving between the highs of Platonism and the lows of Empedocles—the pole of this metaphysical bipolarity, this axiomatic verticality rips through the animal. “Arresting” the dog triggers a violent moment of institutionalization. The art of surfaces, the animal perversion, surfaces in excess of metaphysics is out of the equation. As a result, many hands are in danger15: the hand that strangles (zuhandenheit) as well as Che is hands that will be cut off (vorhandenheit) by the CIA et al. as mimetic proof of his own murder by US. “The hand cannot be spoken about without speaking about technics.” (Derrida 1987, 169)16 Che to Heidegger From Che to Heidegger: a few years after the publication of Being and Time () and a few years before his famous Rector speech ()17, Heidegger devotes, in part, his 1929-30 seminar to a discussion of the animal. Referring to this seminar, in “Eating Well: An Interview,” Jean-Luc Nancy and Jacques Derrida speak of a certain violence that Heidegger has towards the animal. While Heidegger, still working in the problematics of Dasein at this point, “arrests” the animal as being “poor-in-world”, of lacking in the “world” that Dasein is always already in. As Derrida points out, the animal’s weltarm (“lack of world”) is neither within nor without world but rather holds 17 It would be of interest to examine the National Social conception of the university in relation to a specific determination of the animal.


36 an impossible limimal space—the animal is “sad”--the animal contaminates the world, and in a sense, the possibility, or at least, stability, of Dasein18. Derrida: “The Heideggerian discourse on the animal is violent and awkward, at times contradictory...[Heidegger] says the animal has a world in the mode of a not having. But this not having does not constitute in his view of indigence, the lack of a world that would be human...There is no category of original existence for the animal: it is evidently not Dasein, either as vorhandene or zuhandene (Being cannot appear, be, or be questioned as such [als] for the animal.) Its existence introduces a principle of disorder or of limitation into the conceptuality of Being and Time. (Derrida 1991,111) Through the arrest of the animal, of the animal not even having a “category of original existence,” Heidegger, in turn, reinscribes himself unwittingly back into a traditional notion of ontology that has been his task to “destroy.” In a sense, Heidegger must turn his back on the “principle of disorder” that his figuring of the animal produces. A Diogenic, or, Nietzschean dog haunts him...Heidegger describes the domestic dog in his 1929-30 seminar: We keep domestic pets in the house with us, they ‘live’ with us. But we do not live with them if living means being in an animal kind of way. Yet we are with them nonetheless. But this being-with is not an existing-with, because a dog does not exist but merely lives on. Through this being with animals we enable them to move within our world. We say that the dog is lying underneath the table or is running up the stairs and so on. Yet when we consider the dog itself... It eats with us—and yet, it does not really ‘eat’. Nevertheless, it is with us! A going along with . . . , a transposedness, and not yet [italics mine] (Heidegger 1995, 210) 18 As Derrida signals a certain Heideggerian violence toward the animal, one might also note, at least provisionally, a certain indifference, projection or a cross-contamination of our “being” on the animal’s existence as exemplified in the avant-garde Czech composer Petr Kotik’s six hour piece “Many Women,” in which Kotik used brain wave research graphs of drunken rats to plot his score. The text of the piece, by Gertrude Stein, makes reference “being” (or linguistic interventions into the ontological stability of language itself) and was plotted into the score with the same research graphs studying the effects of alcohol on laboratory rats. In effect, this avant-garde intervention combines the raw data of a scientific violence to the animal (i.e. druken rats in a lab) and counter-intuitively juxtaposes it with Stein’s text to produce something completely ‘other.’ In this manner, at work for us is a contamination of humanistic and scientific assumptions of the classification and ontological determinations of “human” and “animal.” Scientific research is turned against itself.


37 “Not yet.” OK, when? How could the animal (animality) ever come to Heidegger? What is the relation between the “not yet” of the domestic dog and the “principle of disorder in the conceptuality of Being and Time?” As long as such violence, left, right, or center, involves an ontological determination of the dog, of the animal, then perversion, the performativity and art of the surface is missed—and the inscription of Platonism continues, though such “disorder” might, in turn, produce a “line of flight.” Heidegger’s dog is “sad.” Che is sad.” And the “manic-depressive” highs and lows of philosophy continues...For both Che and Heidegger, the left hand shares the same axiomatic as the right—man’s head is intact and attached--the encyclopedia and hierarchy are in order. Only metaphysics could make the exchange.19 Diogenes and Nietzsche are not read and the coinage of representation truth and metaphysics remains. “The Powers of the False” As Nietzsche hugs the horse, all the while being followed through the streets of Turin by a dog disguised as a benevolent glass of water, what we have, in effect, is the impossibility of the human and the violence of making the human possible. The “animal” is a signal or wager at the end of Platonism and yet began with it and exceeds or haunts it while already contained within it--a “nonclassical” (artistic, if it wills) denial of the occident, a mobilization against the currency20 of metaphysics and the restricted economy of “man.” At stake is a Nietzschean and Diogenic modality, performativity within performance, the “rise of the pseudo,” “the powers of the false...” and the “anti19 Of course, Derrida reminds us that there is nothing innocent about the so-called piety of the question. In fact, in Of Spirit: Heidegger and the Question, one of the crucial essays, in which Derrida brings up the notion of the animal for Heidegger, challenges the very notion of violence of questioning, on the hermeneutic subject asking the questions. 20 And it is Diogenes, the dog philosopher, who will be exiled for defacing the (cultural) currency at Sinope.


38 Platonism” that Deleuze argues for in Logic of Sense. The Diogenic dog returns to follow Nietzsche through the streets of Turin. Nietzsche is movements through the streets, like the drive itself, are in themselves, a “mode of knowledge.” Within his performances exist a performativity, an interruptive epistemology irreducible to Form or concept, and the possibilities of the surface, the excessive Deleuzean perversion within and through the highs and lows of metaphysics—a modality of a surface ethics in excess of any classification or ontological determination of the animal. As Derrida states, it’s “ a Nietzsche who...’reanimalizes” the genealogy of the concept. The one who parodied Ecce Homo tries to teach us to laugh again by plotting, as it were, to let loose all the animals in philosophy (Derrida 2002, 403)” Perverse “becomings-animal.” What would it mean to prowl “around animal language,” and to read the rhetoric, textuality and physiognonics of Nietzsche is “embrace,” this performance?21 And, how do we unlock the performativity from within this singular performance? Here also lies the problematics of technics and technology, of what is produced22, appears within and exceeds the confines of any State or revolution conceived by “man.” What should we make of this dog figure in Nietzsche is thought that follows him through the streets of Turin before he collapses? How do we come to terms with such a dog, a dog that’s always already “let loose” “within philosophy”? It would be too easy and unfair to say the dog is a figure of Nietzsche is madness (whatever that is). How do we read such a 21 Of interest would be to work through the physiognomics of Nietzsche is embrace in the light of the derive as a “mode of knowledge.” In addition, one could begin to follow Hlderlin’s walk out of the mimetology of the German/Greek relation to find the fire of Greece in France, of his “thought from the outside”—such physiognomics in themselves might open of the epistemological possibility a non-mimetic politics. I am reminded of Herzog walking around Germany to cure his friend of cancer—for him, this was not a metaphor or a symbolic gesture.


39 performative operation as Nietzsche is dog if it has already been “let loose within philosophy?” Certainly, this dog doesn’t have ears for, would not pick up the call (Ruf) of metaphysics. Would not speak, or hang out with Aristotle, or any modality of classification, Kantian or otherwise. Would not easily offer itself to revolutionary’s depressive strangulation or the calculated offer of weltarm’s “sadness.” If this dog is not simply arrested within the economy of philosophical thought, regulated within our cultural currency (studies?), then what could it mean to “reanimalize the genealogy of the concept” ? Perhaps a “nonclassical” performativity endlessly defaces the mimetic currency of the concept, of the coinage of “man,” that is neither Platonic, nor Subversive. What emerges from the problematic of animality is a Nietzschean problematic of thought, the problem of the surface, performativity and the inside out in philosophy—of what happens when philosophy is interrupted from the contained economics of its manic-depressive highs and lows, the shared coin of mimetic truth between Empedocles and Plato—their “lead sandal” and the “wing”--it’s also a question of institutions, arrests and names. Deleuze’s perversion, the power of the pseudo, the false, the question of truth not as resemblance but rather as surface will be on the side of animality. In the Logic of Sense, “The Simulacrum and Ancient Philosophy,” Deleuze asserts a Nietzschean (and I would argue Diogenic) modality that calls for a reversal of Platonism (Deleuze 1990, 253). It refigures the notion of simulation and representation, of mimesis and metaphysics. For Deleuze, the “simulacrum is a becoming-mad, or a becoming unlimited...a becoming always to evade the equal, the limit, the Same, or the Similar: always more and less at once, but never equal “(Deleuze 1990, 258) There is no Platonic economy, no essence or static being, no ontology that would name or freeze


40 living creatures, no “hierarchy that puts everything in its proper place. “23 An interruption of economy, of the exchange that all institutions and communities need and the chance impossibility of their founding violence—the question of animality also is the question of performativity, technics and economy. DIOGENES: Destroying the (Cultural) Currency of (Institutional) Truth. Le chien de coeur n’avait pas geint. --Rene Char, May 3-4, The ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes usually gets a bad rap in the history of philosophy, although there has been a recent renewal of interest in him.24 He lived in tub; didn’t write anything down (as far as we know.); insulted his contemporaries; masturbated in public; walked through the Athens backwards; and went through the city in broad daylight with a lantern looking for an honest man (the irony of Plato’s cave should not be over looked here.) We can also gesture towards Plato’s Timaeus in which subjects, the good citizens, or citizens of the good, are produced within the polis. In this light, if you will, we see Diogenes walking backwards through the city, mocking the very production of such subjects and, at the same time, mocking the concept of the city itself as ontological, as the cite of man and philosopher proper. In this regard, Diogenes is on the one hand, offering a performance, literally walking with a lantern in broad daylight. On the other hand, there’s a performativity at stake exceeding the concept and foundation of Platonic and classical city. Later in the material on Nancy and then on the chapter on Laibach and Angelopoulos, we will see the relationship between the city and cave, and 23 See “Economimesis” The Derrida Reader: Writing Performances Ed Julian Wolfreys. Edinburgh : Edinburgh University Press, 1998.


41 the polis and the subject apropos of the human and the animal. And as we already seen, Heidegger and Che fall into the binary trap of the hierarchy of human and animal. To say the least, Diogenes did not engage with philosophers through dialogue or dialectics. Peter Sloterdijk, in The Critique of Cynical Reason, expresses Plato and Socrates’ absolute inability to understand, let alone figure out what Diogenes was up to: Socrates copes quite well with the Sophists...if he can entice them into a conversation in which he, as a master of refutation, is undefeatable. However, neither Socrates nor Plato can deal with Diogenes—for he talks to them in a language of flesh and blood. Thus, for Plato there remained no alternative but to slander his weird and unwieldy opponent. He called him a “Socrates gone mad” (Socrates mainoumenos). This phrase is intended as an annihilation, but it is the highest recognition. Against his will, Plato places the rival on the same level as Socrates, the greatest dialectician. It makes clear that that with Diogenes something unsettling but compelling had happened with philosophy. In the dog philosophy of the kynic (kyon, dog in Greek;-Trans.) (Sloterdijk 1987,104) Plato had no idea how to deal with Diogenes. For Diogenes refused to argue on Platonic grounds, refused dialectics and the rational “voice” that goes with it by means of which “man” speaks. With Diogenes, there’s a different modality of argumentation, if we can even call it that, the performative and animality. At stake is a material singularity, something that resists and exceeds the usurping of the Forms. We can begin to see not a materialism as Plato would have it, and the bottom end of the Form(al) system, but rather something closer to what Derrida calls a “materiality without matter.” The Diogenic is more than literal abject attack on Plato. More significantly, Diogenes’ strategies are irreducible to any modality of dialectics or philosophy proper. Again, what we have is the problematics of the surface, of becomings-animality—a physiognomic performance that unleashes the performativity of animality into the Platonic landscape and architecture, academy and especially for us, the city proper. Nietzsche is always already born in Diogenes—what Deleuze calls the “animal” of the surface, the “powers of the false.” In


42 addition to his physiognomic attacks, to an irreducible performativity within and as a countersignature to Platonism, Diogenes literally defaces the coins of his town Sinope and accepts exile--all of these things signal something profound that philosophy can’t handle. Of further significance is Diogenes’ exiled25 from his city of Sinope (and, as we know, exile to any noble ancient philosopher would have meant death; no true philosopher worth his weight in gold would have accepted exile over death.) Diogenes saw the same Oracle at Delphi, but was told not to ‘know thy self,’ as his noble counterpart Socrates, but rather to “Deface or adulterate the currency “ (Navia 1998, 17)—which meant not only a literal coin, but also “customs, ”institutions,”26 and “accepted values”--a war on philosophy, culture, mimesis and economics. A Nietzschean surface, something in excess of mimetic truth and the “auto-immunity” of communal and institutional violence. In “Faith and Knowledge” Derrida speaks of the Kantian notion of the anthropo-theological pricelessness of all human life: The price of human life, which is to say, of anthropo-theological life, the price of what ought to remain safe (helig, sacred, safe and sound, unscathed, immune), as the absolute price, the price of what ought to inspire respect, modesty, reticence, this price is priceless. It corresponds to what Kant calls the dignity (Wurdigkeit ) of the end itself, of the rational finite being, of absolute value beyond all comparative market-price (Marktpreis.) (Derrida 1998, 51) And yet the coinage of metaphysics by means of the human community reduces, brings back all (human) life and the concept of human life back into the marketplace of humanism and Sarajevo. And yet, Diogenes offers a promise by means of the defaced 26 For and excellent and rigorous etymology of the Greek oracles’ phrase to Diogenes, “Deface the currency,” see Luis E. Navia’s Diogenes of Sinope: The Man in the Tub. (Navia 1998,16-17)


43 coin interrupt the exchange values in foregrounding a materiality that points to a discourse of the surface. Following the Diogenic and Nietzschean logic of the surface and animality, is there a way to refigure the problematics of institution and community, of a irreducible singularity of life that would not simply fall back and reinscribe itself into the human? Here again are the problematics of the animal or the excess of animality that interrupts the hierarchy and verticality of man. Instead of “lead sandals” and “big toes,” lets keep it on the surface and open. The possibility of human community, as Derrida continues in “Faith and Knowledge,” always involves “auto-immunity”; community’s homogenous identification always incorporates just enough of the “other” to inoculate it from difference—a touch of difference in an attempt to arrest or suspend a radical difference. Derrida states, “Community as com-mon auto-immunity: no community that would not cultivate its own auto-immunity.” (Derrida 1998, 51) And yet, contained within any community, or institution for that matter, is “something other and more than itself: the other, the future, death, freedom, the coming or the love of the other, the space and time of a spectralizing messainicity beyond all messianism.” (Derrida 1998, 51) Diogenes in exile is a figure that resists and haunts the call of auto-immunity. Whatever that “something and more and other than itself” to come might be, is also the question of the interruption of institutions, man’s economy, the coin-age of truth, hierarchy, man’s form of revolution, and the violent humanist program of the calculation of life. Diogenes and Nietzsche haunt metaphysics within its own logic and offer no promises, no proper names, “a spectralizing messainicity beyond all messianism”, the impossibility possible through the surface of animality.


44 Diogenes defaces the coin-age of his age and the coin-age to come. He de-faces the face, i.e., the subject as materially conceived in the gesture of defacing—the human subject is subject to the economics of social structure. The Diogenic at one level literally defaces the coins of his town, of his cultural currency. At another level, when we begin to think about animality as a wild card that introduces undecidability into the conceptual framework of metaphysics, of a representational truth, then we can begin to figure how the Diogenic itself, this “animal,” this “dog,” has always already introduced a “principle of disorder” into philosophy itself as well as perhaps the complex relations between institutions, technology and culture. As the Diogenic dog meets up with Nietzsche in Turin, so too the anthropomorphic coins of philosophy and the regulating truths of culture and economy are, at least, momentarily defaced: What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions; they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins. (Nietzsche 84) At stake especially here for us here, is the Diogenic as a way of looking at animality—the way in which Diogenes haunts philosophy itself. The Diogenic is always already at work, unworking the event of philosophy, and the institutional violence of ontology. The Diogenic is a limit case—a wager of animality haunting the philosophical and its academies. Here, Diogenes, like Nietzsche, is “prowling around animal language,” defacing the coin-age of metaphysics and the institutions in the service of philosophy, that control the inform humanist subjects. When Diogenes takes the name dog, hears the dog’s “howl,” this is the howl of affirmation, not the ‘howl’ that frightens Che, or perhaps Che, in the immediacy of his


45 decision, didn’t have ears for such things—missed the call of a Diogenic “army of dogs,” of the possibility of a “nonclassical” politics of perversion. Diogenes doesn’t accept a classification and determination o f the animal, but rather mobilizes a performativity that will haunt philosophy and its institutions throughout its career. I would argue that Diogenes’ dog and the one that follows Nietzsche, is, in a sense, the same dog not the Same dog. Diogenes took no part Platonic dialogue and by means of performances conjured animality and insulted Socrates’ seductions whenever he got the chance. Diogenes always mistrusted the hermeneutic traps: the instituting and interpellating call from “piety” of the question, albeit Platonist or cop. What concerns us here are “nonclassical” registers of the dog-of-the-surface, these animality-performatives of truths, the modality of a relation of singularities, these pseudo-dogs that haunt philosophy, which are something that doesn’t subscribe to or even subvert Plato—Diogenes is not tragic, depressed or sad. When Diogenes rushes Plato’s new institution, the Academy (a place where the Forms could “come down” and hang out in the “piety” of the question in relative safety), with a plucked chicken and exclaims, “behold Plato’s man!” (which Plato defined as a featherless bipedal creature, or some such thing), it is more than a loon rushing the stage—Socrates mainoumenos. At stake is a performativity in Diogenes’ performance, a technics of animality always already “before” any technology of man, as well as and his mobilization of an “army of dogs” “to-come” that haunt philosophy, and perhaps, at time, intervene, in order to transform, not abolish, its institutions—this “dog” will not come to the call [Ruf] of “Being” or “man.” Perhaps they’re hiding in Heidegger’s house? “Eating,” “living” and “existing” in the performative excesses and lacks of ontology while the building thinks


46 and Heidegger’s back is turned. The Diogenic performance (t)here attempts to interrupt the founding, both literal and figural, of the Platonic Academy, a determined technological form, the classification and dogma of what will become the History of Philosophy. As metaphysics begins Diogenes is defacing its curren(t)cy, warning of its flows, abstractions, and restricted economy. However, this Diogenic is tied not only to the founding violence necessary for an institution, but also addresses the abstract ontological violence inherent in metaphysics itself and the economy of its exchange and the determination and understanding of Truth as representation, which, in turn, informs hierarchy, stability and classification. Such logic will ground, determine, and delineate, among other things, the tripartite structure of human, animal and earth. The problematics of animality, which is a question of the animal per se, as always already understood by man is also a radical performativity that disrupts the restrictive classifications of man, of his institutions. A question of economics and mimesis and naming in general and the animal in particular: “Yes, animal, what a word! Animal is word that men have given themselves the right to give. These humans are found giving it to themselves, this word, but as if they had received it as an inheritance. They have given themselves the word in order to coral a large number of living beings within a single concept: “the Animal,: they say.” (Derrida 2002, 400) The Diogenic is also a question of exile and defacing the cultural currency, the coin-age of truth-as-representation and the restricted economy of Platonism. Perhaps the modality the dog of Diogenes is not a literal dog but a performativity, an animality against the coinage and exchange of philosophy, of the “leveling” which abstracts things to equivalencies and the endless exchange of subversions and conversions,


47 revolutionaries and States. Kierkegaard reminds us, speaking of Hegelian Idealism, that the philosopher (of the book) never simply lives in the clouds of his system. Philosophy hangs out within and informs institutions—is it a technological overdetermination of technics? If so, what, then, is the relation between animality, performativity and technics? It is the Nietzschean truths, the masks, the powers of the false, the ethics-of -a –life, a “face-to-face” without transcendence, without an appeal to God, an irreducible singularity, that cannot be reduced to questions, nor classification and perhaps, could, for us, conjure a Diogenic “army of dogs.” Perhaps the theatrical performances of Diogenes contain within them and inject a performativity which allows for a technics of sorts to weave into a determined technological or institutional space—a Diogenic, and, I suppose, Nietzschean “animal” of the surface could offer a politics without mimetology, without “man.” I am thinking in particular of the question of Heidegger and technology and of how to refigure the problems of technics in relation to that of animality. In Of Spirit: Heidegger and the Question, Derrida reminds us as in Geschlect II, of the importance of the “hand” for Heidegger, and that “this problem concerns, once more, the relationship between animals and technology. “ (Derrida 1989, 11) For Derrida, Heidegger’s hand signals “the profoundest metaphysical humanism.” (Derrida 1989, 12) There’s no room to fully unpack the implications of the question animality and technology to the constitution of an institution such as a university, either the National Socialist, or the Kantian one. However, and crucially, the problems of animality and technics haunt any determined writing, methodology and technologically “straited” space any institution—of importance is how to open up this spectricality of haunting.


48 The powers of the false, of the pseudo, arise to the surface as Nietzsche is being followed through the streets of Turin by a dog, his pain, in the guise of a benevolent glass of water.” The Diogenic will return as Nietzsche is dog in the sense in which the “nonclassical” always resists institutional violence. Can it do more, without risking and reinscribing metaphysics, teleology and the rest of philosophy? Is there a Deleuzean perversion possible? Something to make or write with that doesn’t involve in advance humanism, Dasein’s “hand.”27 In other words, as we have Heidegger’s pen and Nietzsche is typewriter, is there, with animality, another writing “to come”? –a transformative way in which to write in, through, and beyond the humanist institution and idea of a university without a program in mind? How would such as ‘transformative critique’ work, write? Problems of technics, technology and animality must all be brought into the fray to produce these ‘inhuman’ ‘singularities’ to come. At such moments, before Nietzsche is literally institutionalized, he conjures, perhaps, the possibility for thinking about the “new humanities.” Both Diogenes and Nietzsche deface the coin-age of philosophy and its truth-as-representation, a mimetic exchange, which allows, calls for, the leveling of differences. I would like to believe that it is no coincidence that Nietzsche and Diogenes are called and surrounded by animals, that the dog plays such a vital role28, and that the sheer performativity of their language and physiognonics mobilize metaphors of truths against the Truth of philosophy, and the violence that founds all institutions, which has always 27 Of course, the relation between Dasein, the animal and humanism is quite complex. “Dasein is neither vorhanden nor zuhanden. It’s mode of presence is otherwise, but it must indeed have the hand in order to relate itself to other modes of presence.” (Derrida 1987, 176)


49 (tried) to name them. “Hey you?” Yes. That they looked into the impossible eyes of those nameless irreducible singularities, creatures...ex-changed the cop for becomings. With their animalities, the name “animal” given to living creatures by man gives way to the surface, the pseudo, and the powers of the false. Here, there is, I hope, the ‘materiality’ of singularities escaping the arrests of ‘man’ and the possibility, beyond the subject of man, the refiguring of technics, writing and singularities. Following thinkers such as Derrida, Nietzsche, Ronell, Deleuze and Diogenes, perhaps what calls now is a rethinking of animality, of its performative technics in relation to technology at the institutional site and to wager how the risk and danger of an overdetermination of techne can, in fact, perform at the site of the university—the possibility, not program of transformation, or ‘transformative critique.” To then begin with Derrida, “Nothing can ever take away from me the certainty that what we have here is an existence that refuses to be conceptualized.” (Derrida 2002, 379) The Limits of Heidegger and Che The question now becomes, what does Diogenic and Nietzschean truth tell us about reading the limits of Heidegger and Che? It has already been remarked that Heidegger arrested Nietzsche as the last philosopher, for Nietzsche was the first philosopher to proclaim the death of God, and thus the end of metaphysics. To bring Diogenes and Nietzsche back to Heidegger and Che, what we have is that concerning the animal, neither Heidegger nor Che are able to think through singularities and becomings. In the case of Che, he is unable to think or encounter the animal as other, as something that should be respected on its own terms. Che is greater goals of the revolution lead, as we saw, to the murder of the puppy. In Deleuze’s and Guattari’s language, Che falls into an Oedipal guilt over killing the dog—an endless cyclical


50 repetition of violence, and then guilt. One can only speculate is Che is having childhood flashbacks to that instant in which he is riding on his dog’s back as forever captured in his family’s home movies. What the puppy signals is a lower rank in a humanist hierarchy for everyone is ultimately expendable in the revolution. In this sense by missing the singularity of the animal, Che is also affirming a hierarchy implicit in his own revolution. This is an act of transcendence through and through, what Nietzsche might refer to as god in the grammar of metaphysics. In contrast to Che is puppy, consider Nancy’s cat. In Being Singular Plural Nancy writes It is an impossible thought, a thinking that does not hold itself back from the circulation it thinks, a thinking of meaning right at the meaning, where its eternity occurs as the truth of its passing. (For instance, at the moment at what I am writing, a brown-and-white cat is crossing the garden, slipping mockingly away, taking my thoughts with it.’) (3) What Nancy expresses is a thought that does not possess the animal, but rather opens up the animal and us to a repetition of singularity in which the animal and I touch at one instant in which there is neither a human nor animal per se, but rather a singularity of being that repeats differently “at each instant.” In this manner, Nancy expresses the “eternal return” of singularity, and one could say that Nietzsche haunts Nancy’s cat and visa versa. It is never of matter of a cat as some empirical being getting the best of us, just as Che got the best of the puppy, but instead, it becomes a matter of how to think without hierarchy, in which animal is less than human, and in turn, some humans are more valuable than others. While Che might be a more straightforward figure as a man of the jungle, the case of Heidegger is a bit more complicated. Heidegger was able to think about the question of the meaning of being, of being in its singularity, but always as a problematic of man


51 and being, or Dasein and being. In so doing this, he missing the notion of the animal as other. It now becomes a question, if we can even call it that, of reversing the question, of starting again with what Heidegger for the most part ignored, the philosophical problem of the animal. In his speaking of the animal, a dog, is not his dog, but rather a dog in general. A dog that eats, but “does not eat with us” As Agamben states, animal for Heidegger “never sees the open.” (Agamben 2004, 58) The animal has no access to the opening of being. In Heidegger’s 1929-30 seminar on the animal and boredom, he expounds the doors to the open are shut for the animal, or maybe left ajar For the animal is in relation to his circle of food, prey, and other animals of its own kind, and it is so in a way essentially different from the way the stone is related to the earth upon which it lies. In the circle of living things characterized as plant or animal we find peculiar stirring of a motility by which the living being is “stimulated,” i.e., excited to an emerging into a circle of excitability on the basis of which it includes other things in the circle of its stirring. But no motility or excitability of plants and animals can ever bring the living thing into the free in such a way that what is stimulated could ever let the thing which excites “be” what it is even merely as exciting, not to mention what it is before the excitation and without it. Plant and animal depend on something outside of themselves without ever “seeing” either the outside or the inside, i.e., without ever seeing their being unconcealed in the free of being. It would never be possible for a stone, any more than an airplane, to elevate itself toward the sun in jubilation and to stir the lark, and yet no even the lark sees the open . . . therefore neither the animal can move about in the closed as such, no more than it can comport itself toward the concealed. The animal is excluded from the essential domain of the conflict between unconcealed and concealedness. The sign of such exclusion is that no animal or plant “has the word.”(58) In the dense passage above, again the animal is cut off from language and therefore, ultimately for Heidegger, from the open of being. This occurs in the later Heidegger also. In “Building Dwelling Thinking” the animal becomes a mere aspect of earth, in the fourfold of mortals, earth, sky and gods. The animal’s mortality is not considered at all because, for Heidegger, the animal’s death is not an issue for it. Here he comes dangerously close to biologism of instincts, which he was vehemently opposed to both in


52 his philosophical works, and in his differences with the official biologism of National Socialism, especially regarding their bastardized “interpretation” of Nietzsche. And it is with Nietzsche that the animal comes back to haunt Heidegger. I will in a later chapter how Heidegger’s singular thinking of being in which the animal is excluded, also assumes a certain notion of the polis as the city, in which it’s not the poets that are kicked out, but instead the animals. It is Nietzsche who, as Derrida reminds us, “let’s loose all the animals in philosophy.” In the chapter of Nancy, I will explore in some detail, the way in which Heidegger’s crucial concept of “being-with” was unable to really read the “with” of the “being-with” and therefore privileged a particular way of seeing being as selective of Dasein. Of really a fundamental ontological glue of relating one Dasein to another Dasein. In such a way, “being-with” the animal becomes impossible, if not somewhat ridiculous for Heidegger. Derrida again takes Heidegger to task of a certain positing of “being-with”: Being after, being alongside, being near [pres] would appear as different modes of being, it isn’t certain that these modes of being, indeed of being-with. With the animal. But, in spite of appearances, it isn’t certain that these modes of being come to modify a preestablished being, even less primitive than “I am.” [I would add Dasein] In any case they express a certain order of being-huddled-together [etre-serre] (which is what the etymological root, pressu, indicates, whence are derived the words pres, aupres, aprs), the being-presses, the being –with as being strictly attached, bound, enchained, being-under-pressure, compressed, impressed, repressed, pressed-against according to the stronger or weaker stricture of what always remains pressing. In the sense of the neighbor . . . should I say that I am close or near to the animal and that I am (following) it, and it what type or order of pressure? Being-with it in the sense of being-close-to-it? Being-alongside-it? Being-after-it? Being-after-it in the sense of the hunt [hund?], training, or taming, or being-after-it in the sense of a succession or inheritance? In all case, if I am (following) after it, the animal therefore come before me, earlier than me (fruher is Kant’s word regarding the animal . . .) The animal is their before me, there close to me, there in front of me—I who am (following) after it. And also, therefore, since it is before me, it is behind me. It surrounds me. And from the vantage of this being-there-before-me it can allow itself to be looked at, no doubt, but also—something that philosophy perhaps forgets, perhaps being this calculated forgetting


53 itself—it can look at me. It has its point view regarding me. The point of view of the absolute other, and nothing will ever have done more to make me think through this absolute alterity of the neighbor than these moments when I see myself seen naked under the gaze of a cat. (Derrida 2002, 7) What Derrida is able to open up here about the animal in relation to Heidegger, and many other philosopher for that matter, is yet another limit-case regarding the animal, the gaze of the animal, and the way in which the animal seems to present itself as a “wholly other,” to borrow from Levinas. In the next chapter, the question of the animal and the “wholly other” will be further explored. The animal as “neighbor” would fall on foreign ears to Heidegger. And this brings us to the point at which the Diogenic, Nietzsche is animal “let free to roam in philosophy,” express what Heidegger could not see: the animal, the cat that takes Nancy’s thought, and the cat that gaze’s at a naked Derrida, is not within some ontological manifold hierarchy, but rather is a moment of becoming that cuts through the Platonic simulation. In addition to a becoming, it also is a singularity that repeats differently “at each instant” and touches us and takes our thoughts away with it. In this regard, the simulacra of animality happens before any ontology of man or his various states of being.


CHAPTER 3 LEVINAS: ETHICS IN THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF CRITICISM. It is true that Ethics, in Levinas’s sense, is an Ethics without law and without concept, which maintains its non-violent purity only before being determined as concepts and laws. This is not an objection: let us not forget that Levinas does not seek to propose laws or moral rules, does not seek to determine a morality, but rather the essence of the ethical relation in general. But as this determination does not offer itself as a theory of Ethics, in question, then, is an Ethics of Ethics. . . A coherence which breaks down the coherence of the discourse against coherence—the infinite concept, hidden within the protest against the concept. -Jacques Derrida, Violence and Metaphysics Introduction What can Emmanuel Levinas, whose ethical project goes not only against the grain of classical rhetoric, aesthetics and literary criticism, but also against the whole enterprise of philosophy itself, offer us about the question of ethics and animality? In other words, what relevance does Levinas have for us? Levinas’s contribution to Continental philosophy is the revitalization of the question of ethics, and more importantly, the rethinking of ethics not as a branch of philosophy (or ontology1) but as something that is prior to and unworks philosophy’s totalizing practice. Levinas’s ethics radically differs from ethics or morality as understood as a discipline within philosophy. Whereas philosophy attempts to speak for the Other2, to give the Other voice and meaning to what 1 Ontology is the study of being; it is concerned to be the foundation of philosophy. Martin Heidegger, as we will see later in this essay, complicates how ontology has been understood by philosophy since Plato. 2 The Other is an important notion in philosophy. The German philosopher Hegel understood the Other as something to be overcome. For Hegel, the Other must be posited in order to be overcome. For those interested in the complexities of Hegel’s dialectic, see the Phenomenology of Sprit. For many 20th C French philosophers such as Levinas, Maurice Blanchot and Jacques Derrida, the Other is not something to be overcome, understood, but rather something more radical than how philosophy constructs understanding 54


55 it doesn’t understand, to perform the violence of speaking for the Other, Levinas’s project is to refigure ethics as an interruption of the very practice of philosophy. Levinas’s concept of the Other is critical to understanding how ethics is prior to, or before any ontology, fundamental or otherwise. It is important to pause briefly explain the different notions of the Other for Levinas. For Levinas, there are two others as it were. On the one hand, we have the big O Other, Auturi. The Auturi, the radical Other, calls us into question, or as Chakravorty Spivak puts it, “this Autrui, which is the absolutely other” and “can contest my position . . .only because it approaches me not from the outside but from above, transcendentally.”3 It is the gift of the Autrui. In contrast, there is the little o, other, Autre, which would be another person. In the language of Levinas, the Other would be that of Saying, while the other, would be that of Said. What can his work tell us about the nature and project of literary criticism? Because of Levinas’s particular view of ethics, he would regard literary criticism, understood as pre-set principles which could then be applied to a literary text, as functioning similarly to philosophy, which by means of imposing a methodology, or code, attempts to speak for the Other. In this way, both philosophy and literary criticism are a discourse of the Same, that which does not repeat difference or the possibility of encountering the Other. In other words, literary criticism imposes meaning on a work of literature, just as philosophy imposes meaning on that which eludes it. In literary criticism and philosophy, the example functions as a mimetic or representational relation. This process only reflects itself. The Other, for many post-structuralists, is something estranged or outside of understanding, beyond meaning. 3 Unpublished interview with Spivak, courtesy of Julian Wolfreys.


56 its own meaning, and by attempting to speak for the other, only reflects itself—the mimetology of self-reflexivity. For Levinas, ethics is always a problem of relation, and, I will argue, of unworking any form of mimesis or representation. For Levinas, the project of philosophy as a process of totalization must itself be interrupted, and he does this through a radical rethinking of the question of ethics, no longer understood as a branch of philosophy, as systematic or codifiable doctrine, that ought to be applied to specific experiences or situations, but rather as a performative operation that exceeds, or perhaps interrupts philosophy’s grip. In other words, ethics for Levinas is prior to philosophy (the history of metaphysics, of ontology) and, then, before any philosophy of ethics. Thus, Jacques Derrida calls it an “Ethics of Ethics,” an ethics that does not follow the rule of representation or the example. For instance, there can be no example of an ethical action applied to a specific situation since there is no prior code of ethics to fall back upon. That is, ethics is a matter of relation with the Other which is before meaning itself. This encounter with the Other (Autrui), what Levinas terms “the face to face” is a performative relation prior to an ontological mediation; therefore, in the “face to face” encounter with the Other, no code of ethics is applicable. As Jill Robbins states in Alter Reading, “For Levinas...ethics denotes not a set of moral precepts but a responsibility—at its most originary—that arises in the encounter with the face of another.” (Robbins 1999, 41) This “encounter” with the “face of another” is precisely what is at stake for Levinas. In contrast, for Heidegger, there is no face. He misses the performative or ethical dimension of Autrui, because him posits and assumes an ontology before any ethics. In such a manner, one could say (Saying) that Heidegger’s insistence upon the question of


57 being, or even of “being-with” (as mitdasein, or mituns) always privileges the ontology over any ethics that could “face-off” with being. The face reminds hidden, or perhaps unrecognizable to Heidegger precisely because his does not see it as a radically other relation, more primordial than any being, fundamental or other-wise. As Levinas states, “The face is present in its refusal to be contained. In this sense it cannot be comprehended, that is encompassed. It is neither seen nor touched—for in visual or tactile sensation the identity of the I envelops the alterity of the object, which precisely becomes a context.” (Levinas 1969, 194) This chapter attempts to shed light on some of Levinas’ s important concepts as well as some of his terminology. This is in no way meant to be a comprehensive commentary of Levinas’s work. Rather, this chapter attempts to explore key concepts of his project relating to notions of performativity, ontology, art, rhetoric and deconstruction. 4 However, before addressing these crucial questions in greater detail, it is necessary to understand Levinas’s ethical project and its relation to philosophy. At the risk of momentarily oversimplifying Levinas, he loosely shares a common thread with many twentieth-century Continental philosophers, who, perhaps taking their cue from 4 For example, Levinas’ relation to gender, religion and animality are not explored here but are quite important. See Critchley for a reading of Derrida on Levinas about the importance of gender. Levinas’s ethics, like Heidegger’s Dasein, does not fully work through the implications of gender. For more on the problem of Dasein and gender, see Derrida’s Geschlet I. Regarding animality, Critchley discusses Derrida and Llewelyn’s criticism: “ One might Derrida has recently done, that Levinasian ethics has no way of experiencing responsibility towards plants, animals, and living things in general and that despite the novelty and originality of Levinas’s analysis of ethical subjectivity, he ends up buttressing and perpetuating a very traditional humanism, that of Judaeo-Christian morality. This issue is very sensitively discussed by John Llewelyn when he explores the question ‘Who is the Other (Autrui)?’ by asking whether animals—dogs in particular—can obligate humans to the same degree as other human beings...(180)


58 Nietzsche, unwork the very project of philosophy itself, which tries to speak for the other by imposing meaning on that which is foreign to it.5 In the section on Ethics and Ontology I will explore what Levinas has in common with Heidegger as well as some of their crucial differences. Levinas’s ethics shares with Heidegger’s “fundamental ontology” a need to work against philosophy, or metaphysics , to somehow get behind or before it. Although their respective projects differ greatly--and that their own works transformed throughout their lives in also of importance—the section on ethics and ontology will delve more into Heidegger and Levinas. The section on Saying and Said will address how these two terms function for Levinas’s project as a means of understanding how both the performative and constative operate. In the section on Rhetoric and Art, I will look at Levinas’s views on both art and classical rhetoric against the project and possibility of ethics because, for Levinas, both art and rhetoric are involved with representation and application of a set of rules. However, this is complicated when we consider his relationship with Blanchot and Derrida. I will also then complicate Levinas’s views on art and rhetoric to explore how his definitions are in-formed by a Platonic inheritance and how Levinas’s interruptive ethics are much closer to investigations of the “literary” itself and an ethical performative. In this sense, Levinas’s project, although certainly not identical, is similar to thinkers such Lacoue-Labarthe, Blanchot, Derrida and de Man in that the representational or mimetic structures of philosophy, relation and method brought into question. In this way, the problem of the 5 Like Heidegger, Levinas is critical of philosophy. In the section on ontology, I will discuss some of the crucial differences between Heidegger and Levinas. Levinas, also like many post-structuralists such as Derrida, Lyotard, Nancy and Lacoue-Labarthe, is critical of the totalizing project of philosophy especially as exemplified by Hegel. This thematic grouping of Levinas with Blanchot, Heidegger and many post-structuralists, is provisional and only meant to show a common thread they share against the totalizing discourse of philosophy which culminates in Hegel’s dialectic. The various critical differences and productive agons between these thinkers is, of course, crucial.


59 Other, like the problem of the city, is the problem of philosophy because philosophy must master and control ‘its’ subject. Socrates’ problem with Diogenes, for example, was that he was unable to control Diogenes, or lure him into dialectics. Relation: Ethics and Ontology In order to understand Levinas’s to the ethical challenge to philosophy, it is vital to understand his relationship to ontology. Ontology, the question of being, is both fundamental and foundational to philosophy. The various branches of philosophy such as epistemology, ethics and aesthetics, are all predicated upon ontology. To really grasp what is at stake in Levinas’s ethics and his challenge to philosophy, we have to consider Martin Heidegger’s “fundamental ontology” as articulated in Being and Time, in which he calls for the “destruction” of ontology, beginning with Plato and culminating in Hegel. Heidegger radicalizes the problem of ontology as well as offers a critique of the Cartesian subject6 by means of the “equipmental structure’, what Heidegger calls Dasein (literally being there), and Dasein is always already “being-in-the-world.”7 Hence, the experience of Dasein is prior to the subject-object duality of Descartes. Heidegger uses the word Dasein, literally “being there,” because he does not want to use the word “subject,” which falls into the notion of the subject/object split and is based upon an abstract notion of being, precisely what the tradition of philosophy embraces and what Heidegger seeks 6In the Mediations, Rene Descartes’ famous phrase “Cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am) begins what modern philosophy. Descartes, out to prove God’s existence in the Mediations, begins by doubting everything except that he exists while he is thinking. The “I” or subject, becomes foundational for Descartes, and the material world, which includes the body, becomes a res extentia, an extension of the subject. This begins the modern problem of the subject/object split. The problem of the subject has haunted all philosophers since Descartes. 7 An excellent guide for those interested in reading Heidegger’s Being and Time, see Being In The World by Herbert Dreyfus. Dreyfus’ book does an excellent job explicating the complexities of what Heidegger means by Dasein, equipmentality, and being-in-the-world.


60 to avoid. For Heidegger, the history of philosophy is, in a sense, “a history of a mistake” in which philosophers since Plato have misunderstood the question of the meaning of being by understanding it as an abstraction, an empty category which serves to classify knowledge. Heidegger attempts to “get behind” philosophy, which he sees as ontological, and develop a “transcendental fundamental ontology.” Thus, Heidegger turns to the question of Dasein, being-in-the-world, which, for him, is prior to the object/subject split of Descartes. By means of articulating the structure of the world in which Dasein is being-in-the-world, Heidegger attempts to get out of traditional ontology and Cartesian duality. While this is not the place to attempt to describe Heidegger’s project, what concerns us is the problem that Heidegger’s “fundamental ontology”8 presents for Levinas’s ethics. In order to understand what is at stake in Levinas’s ethics, it is vital to consider his own relation to philosophy and especially, Heidegger. Even though Heidegger tries to unwork a Cartesian relation by destroying Cartesian precepts, for Levinas, Heidegger still understands relation as being, and this is the problem because, for Levinas, he inadvertently falls back into the ontology. Thus, Heidegger’s project with Dasein, while opening up a critique of Descartes and the history of philosophy, nonetheless reinscribes ontology because first and foremost the question of being, not of the Other, is Heidegger’s main concern. As Critchley asserts in The Ethics of Deconstruction: Levinasian ethics bears a critical relation to the philosophical tradition. For Levinas, Western philosophy has most often been what he calls ‘ontology’, by which he means the attempt to comprehend the Being of what is, or beings (das Sein des Seienden) (TeI13/TI 42), the most recent example of which is Heidegger’s 8 See Being and Time, Division I for the articulation of Dasein and Division II for Dasein’s relation to time.


61 fundamental ontology, in which the elaboration of the question of the meaning of Being presupposes ab initio a comprehension of Being. (Critchley 1991, 5) We can begin to see what is at stake in how to think the problem of relation, of the Other, without a mediation of being. In Totality and Infinity Levinas states, “Being and Time has argued perhaps but one sole thesis: Being is inseparable from the comprehension of Being (which unfolds as time); Being is already an appeal to subjectivity.” (Levinas 1969, 45) As long as Heidegger continues to emphasize being, he cannot get away from the subject. Thus, Heidegger’s project falls short of the radical relation of Levinas’s ethics because Heidegger, for Levinas, still has not eliminated being as a relation and Dasein itself falls into a strange subjectivity. There is no direct face to face relation for Heidegger; despite his invaluable critique of ontology, he still reduces the relation between Dasein and Dasein as mediated by the question and problematic of being. The problem Heidegger’s “fundamental ontology” presents is that the tradition of philosophy is based upon abstraction, and while Heidegger attempts to get beyond philosophy, he still remains within being, which for Levinas misses the ethical. In Totality and Infinity Levinas states the problem explicitly: The primacy of ontology for Heidegger does not rest on the truism: “to know an existant it is necessary to have comprehended the Being of existents.” To affirm the priority of Being over existents is to already decide the essence of philosophy; it is to subordinate the relation with someone, who is an existant, (the ethical relation) to a relation with the Being of existents. (Levinas 1969, 45) Again, for Levinas, Heidegger “affirms the priority of Being over existants” at the expense of an ethical relation between existants. In his commentary on Levinas, Adriaan Peperzak further emphasis the crucial difference between Levinas and Heidegger: The supremacy of reason, by which the human subject, according to Plato, feels at home in understanding the world as a relations of ideas [forms], is replaced by another relation between Dasein and Being, but still Dasein stays shut up in its relation to the phosphorescent Anonymous enabling all beings to present


62 themselves to it, without ever producing true alterity. The truth of Dasein is that the being which is “always mine’ is also a being for which its own being is the issue. (Peperzak 1993, 53-4) In other words, Heidegger replaces Plato’s relation of ideas (the Forms), with another, or different, relation of Dasein being-with another Dasein, or of Dasein’s relation to being. We can see Dasein is based upon Heidegger’s “fundamental ontology” which replaces Plato’s traditional ontology. For Heidegger, being-in-the-world, which Dasein is always already in, is prior to Plato’s notion of ontology, which bases being upon an abstract notion. By extension, Descartes’ subject, for Heidegger, is predicated on Platonic ontology. However, while Heidegger clearly radicalizes the problem of being for philosophy, but he nonetheless fixates on a nostalgia for being. Heidegger becomes vital for Levinas because Being and Time was amongst the first radical attempts to challenge the sovereignty of the Cartesian subject.9 Levinas’s ethical project undoes the notion of being and how all relation, albeit Cartesian, or Heideggerian, relies on ontology. Levinas attempts to unwork the very notion of relation as ontology. He regards his ethics and the “face to face” as prior to Heidegger’s ontology and the description of how Dasein relates to the another Dasein as mitsein.10 What is at stake for a student of literary criticism is to see how, for Levinas, literary criticism so long as it functions as a method of application, would necessarily be part and parcel of an ontological practice. In other words, any relation between a literary method and an object of study, such as a film or work of literature is mediated by ontology, or being. Thus, we can begin to see for Levinas how literary criticism is haunted by ontology. Levinas 9 Of course there can be no doubt that both Nietzsche and Husserl had already, albeit in different ways, already started the modern critique of the Cartesian subject. 10 Christopher Fynsk’s raises in Heidegger and Historicity many complications to the question of Mitsein.


63 attempts a radical unworking of relation as being, which sets up the possibility of application; his ethics will involve an asymmetrical relation based on a performative ethics, which interrupts the mediation of relation based on being. According to Levinas, however, ethics is not a branch of philosophy but rather the interruption of philosophy’s attempt at totalization, to speak for the Other, or in relation to the Other as an object of study. Hence, ethics for Levinas is prior to philosophy or ontology; “The establishing of the primacy of ethical . . . a primacy upon which all other structures rest (and in particular all those which seem to put us primordally in contact with an impersonal sublimity, aesthetic or ontological), is the objective of the present work (Robbins cit. Levinas 1999, xxi) Thomas Wall, in Radical Passivity, also states that “Ethics is beyond experience. It is beyond the experience of a subject and that of Dasein. (Wall 1999, 38)” Ethics is a relation, or perhaps, really a relation of non-relation, an ethics beyond ethics, an excess of being that works against the relation of subject and object, which is central to philosophy, especially since Descartes and Hegel. Levinas’s ethics cannot be codified; it is not a prescriptive set of maxims that one ought to live by. Rather, what’s at stake is a matter of an asymmetrical and non-mimetic relation prior to ontology, in which one faces rather than speaks for the Other (Autrui), that can never be static or repeatable but is performative. The encounter with the Other interrupts the sovereignty of the subject/object relation of traditional ontology as well as befindlichkeit (how Dasein always already finds itself in the world.) of Dasein. It is a relation without relation, an excess, a performative operation that unworks the subject/object split. As Critchley states, “In the language of transcendental philosophy, the face is the condition of possibility for ethics. For Levinas, then, the ethical relation—and ethics is simply and


64 entirely the event of this relation—is one in which I am related to the face of the Other...” (Critchley 1991, 5) Thus, it is also crucial to understand how the notion of identity and the Same function not only for Western philosophy, but for any of its derivative disciplines. For philosophy, everything under investigation is reduced to the Same. In other words, or putting words in for the other, philosophy collapses the relation between the Same and the Other into the Same. The relation is absorbed into mediation. What is at stake is how the relation (un)works in Levinas. Levinas introduces the figure of the face as a means of understanding the ethical. As Robbins states, “the face is a collusion between world and that which exceeds world.” (Robbins 1999, 58) Levinas’s project in Totality and Infinity “explores the ethical of the face of the Other, unmediated by being, in order to avoid the violent appropriation of ontology, the violence of speaking for the Other. The face does not represent anything for Levinas. Rather, it is a performative, or as Wall expresses in Radical Passivity, ethics is “an operation” (Wall 1999 35). Robbins quotes Levinas, who states, “The relationship with the other,” says Levinas, “puts me into question, empties me of myself...The I loses its sovereign coincidence with itself, its identification, in which consciousness returned triumphantly to itself...The I is expelled from this rest.”’(T, 350-53) For Levinas, ethics in the most general sense is the question of self-sufficiency, the interruption of self—described variously as an obligation, an imperative, an imposition, a responsibility—that arises in the encounter with the face of the other.”(Robbins 1999, 23) According to Levinas, the face is a condition for the possibility of ethics (Critchley), an excess that cannot be contained or contextualized. In this sense, it is a


65 performative; ethics opens up a relation (Robbins 1999, 5-7). “I don’t think the infinity of Autrui, I face it; speak to it. (Robbins 1999, 7) The relation to the other is not a relation in the sense of a mediation, even to call it a relation is tenuous, rather “the other is...a surplus, radical asymmetry. (Robbins 1999, 4) “The relation between the Other and me, which dawns forth in his expression, issues neither in number or concept. The Other remains infinitely transcendent, infinitely foreign; his face in which epiphany is produced and which appeals to me breaks with the world that can be common to us, whose virtualities are inscribed in our nature and absolute difference.” (Levinas 1969, 194) Levinas describes how the face resists sublation and containment: The face resists possession, resists my powers. In its epiphany, in expression, the sensible, still graspable, turns into total resistance to the grasp. This mutation can occur only by the opening of a new dimension. For the resistance to the grasp is not produced as an insurmountable resistance, like the hardness of the rock which the effort of the hand comes to naught, like the remoteness of a star in the immensity of space. The expression the face introduces into the world does not defy the feebleness of my powers, but my ability for power. The face, still a thing among thing, breaks through the form that nevertheless delimits it. This means concretely: the face speaks to me and thereby invites me to a relation incommensurate with a power exercised, be it enjoyment or knowledge.(Levinas 1969, 197-8) Significantly, although Levinas describes the face, it not is the face of a subject; it is important realize the face is not literal or empirical but rather interrupts the ontological relation. Precisely because it is not a subject, it interrupts the ontological grounding that constitutes subjectivity: “The face is present in its refusal to be contained. In this sense it cannot be comprehended, that is encompassed. It is neither seen nor touched—for in visual or tactile sensation the identity of the I envelops the alterity of the object, which precisely becomes a context.” (Levinas 1969, 194) But what is crucial for Levinas is that the face is not a sign, nor representation of a subject; it is not semiotic, nor semantic—rather, as Critchley states, “its possibility is the condition of ethics.” In this sense, the


66 face is the singular figure of alterity and is therefore analogical rather mimetic, regardless of whether we speak of the human or the animal. In understanding this it is possible to come face to face with that in Levinas’s ethics which deconstructs the human/animal binary. We can see this in the following remark by Robbins, “For Levinas, to decode the face in the manner of other signs would be to reduce it violently, to turn it—horribly, into a mask, that is, not just a surface but something petrified and immobile.” (Levinas, 1969, 60) To “petrify” the face would be to ontologize it and kill it. Ontology is death. Because the face cannot be contained, it radically interrupts an ontological “context.” The Other should not be understood as an object or another subject, nor a dialectical negation, because both must assume an ontology. Rather the Other (Autrui) for Levinas, radically breaks any relation mediated by being. The Other is in excess of being: The relation between the Other and me, which dawns forth in his expression, issues neither in number or concept. The Other remains infinitely transcendent, infinitely foreign; his face in which epiphany is produced and which appeals to me breaks with the world that can be common to us, whose virtualities are inscribed in our nature and absolute difference.” (Levinas 1969, 194) A possible rupture in Levinas’s understanding of the “wholly other” and of the face has to do with the animal. As brought up in the chapter on animality, Levinas’s concept of God, as the “wholly other”11 becomes somewhat blurred when we begin to think about the animal, and in Levinas’s case, a dog named Bobby. In John Llewelyn’s essay, “Am I Obsessed By Bobby? (Humanism of the Other Animal),” he takes Levinas to task over the question of the animal. Llewelyn’s is referring to the dog, Bobby, who Levinas’s 11 It’s important to keep in mind that for Levinas, “The Other is not the incarnation of God, but precisely his face, in which he is disincarnate, is the height in which he is revealed.” (79) Totality and Infinity


67 encountered over a two week period in a German camp for Jewish prisoners during World War II. Llewelyn’s goes on to describe Levinas’s encounter in the camp: {W]here Levinas himself and his companions had become accustomed to being treated as less than human, sometimes subjected to looks that were enough, as he chillingly expresses it, to strip them of their human skin. Yet Bobby [the dog], during the few weeks the guards allowed him to remain, was there every morning to welcome them with wagging tail as they lined up before leaving for work and, unconstrained by the prohibition placed upon his Egyptian ancestors, was there waiting when they returned at night to welcome them one and all with an excited bark. The last Kantian in Nazi Germany, Levinas comments, and one wonders if he intends us to take that comment as nothing more or less than the literal truth. (Lewelyn 1991, 237) The question here is whether or not Levinas’s ethics has a responsibility to the animal, and if the animal, which does not speak, responds to us as the “wholly other.” For Levinas, human society is implicit to his ethics. It would seem as if Bobby could not call [der ruf] Levinas into question, for “it is the ubiquity not of the geometrical space of he things at which I look, but of the pregeometrical space from which I am looked at by the face, the face which me regard in both senses of the word, the face that looks at me and the face that concerns me.” (Llewelyn 1991, 242) It is the “face that m’accuse in both senses of the word, the face whose look picks out and accuses me.” (Llewelyn 1991, 242) But for Levinas, the face cannot be the face of the animal, for the animal does not speak. It is according to “human faces, Levinas writes, that “’Being will have a meaning as a universe, and the unity of the universe will be n me as subject to being. That means that the space of the universe will manifest itself as the dwelling of others.’” The door of that dwelling would seem to be slammed in Bobby’s face, assuming that he has one.” (Llewelyn 1991, 1991) What remains undecidable in Levinas’s notion is how human society has precedence over the animal. While the animal does not respond in the full presence of speech, does not Bobby call on Levinas, does not Bobby demand an ethical


68 response? How is Levinas to distinguish between the animal and “God’s” silence? If Levinas cannot figure the animal into his discourse, then it seems as though Levinas’s transcendent “Otherness” must be a call for another humanism, a community of human society, or then God and animal become indistinguishable. In “The Animal that therefore I am (more to follow),” Derrida contemplates his the gaze and silence of his cat. And Derrida often feels embarrassed when his cat sees him naked. He reminds us of Levinas’s caution of seeing the other. “In looking at the gaze of the other, Levinas says, one must forget the color of his eyes, in other words see his gaze, the face that gazes before seeing the visible eyes of the other.” (Derrida 2002, 8) And yet, “When [Levinas] reminds us that the “best way of meeting the Other is not even to notice the color of his eyes,” (13) he is speaking of man, of one’s fellow as man, kindred, brother; he thinks of the other man.” (Derrida 2002, 8) This brings us the point that Levinas was unable to take the animal, or the gaze of the animal into account, what Derrida has called “the wholly other they call the ‘animal’ and for example a cat.” (Derrida 2002.8) Derrida goes on to explore the limit-case of Levinas by thinking about the animal gaze. As with every bottomless gaze, as with the eyes of the other, the gaze called animal offers to my sight the abyssal limit of the human: the inhuman or the ahuman, the ends of man, that is to say the bordercrossing from which vantage man dares to announce himself to himself, thereby calling himself by the name that he gives himself. An in these moments of nakeness, under the gaze of the animal, everything can happen to me, I am the child of the apocalypse, I am (following) the apocalypse itself, that is to say the ultimate and first event of the end, the unveiling and verdict. I am (following) it, the apocalypse, I identify with it by running behind it, after it, after its whole zoology. When the instant of the passion passes, and I find peace again, then I can relax and speak of the beasts of the apocalypse, visit them in the museum, see them in a painting (but for the Greeks zoography referred them to the portraiture of the living in general and not just the painting of animals); I can visit them in the zoo, read about them in the Bible, or speak about them in a book. (Derrida 2002, 8)


69 It is precisely in the moment of passion, before the animal get put back into the zoo or as a metaphor in the Bible, that the gaze of the animal, crossing and traverses through the advantage and blind eye of man. In the essay, “The Name of a Dog, or Natural Rights,” Levinas in his own words about Bobby: We can he Bobby, an exotic name, as one does with a cherished dog. He would appear at morning assembly and was waiting for us as we returned, jumping up and barking in delight. For him, there was no doubt that we were men. Perhaps the dog that recognized Ulysses beneath his disguise on his return from Ithaca was a forbearer of our own. But no! There, it concerned Ithaca and the fatherland. Here, the place was nowhere. Last Kantian of Nazi Germany, not having the brains needed to universalize maxims out of one’s drives, this dog descended from the dogs of Egypt. And his friendly growling—the faith of an animal—was born from the silence of his forefathers on the banks of the Nile. (Levinas 1990, 152) I would argue that it is the animal that figures absolute difference that therefore gestures towards the ethics of the political and the politics of ethics, as we shall see in Ulysses Gaze and Laibach. For the animal is that singularity which breaks any relation mediated by being as comprehended by Levinas in his thinking of absolute difference and otherness even though he does not attribute that in terms of the animal. As we shall see in the next chapter the significant figure of the relation of non-relation, the animal embodies that construction referred to by Nancy as being singular plural. Saying and Said The crucial question here is how does Levinas’s ethics perform the radical relation, or interruption, of ontology? To think about the difference between Levinas’s face to face and ontology is to think about the difference between the Saying and the Said. Critchley discusses Levinas’ different strategies, whereas in Totality and Infinity, Levinas talks about the ethical Saying within the ontological Said, Otherwise than Being, is the


70 performative enactment of writing.’ (Critchley 1991, 8)12 Provisionally, we can note that Saying is performative, while the Said is constative. In other words, the Saying is ethical while the Said is ontological. In his famous lectures, How To Do Things With Words, the Anglo-American philosopher of language, J.L. Austin, introduced the concepts of performatives and constatives. 13 For Austin, a performative is, or rather, I should say, does the following: When I say before the registrar or altar, &c., ‘I do’, I am not reporting on a marriage: I am indulging in it. What are we to call a sentence or utterance of this type? I propose to call it a performative sentence or a performative utterance, or for short, ‘a performative’. The term ‘performative’ will be used in a variety of cognate ways and constructions, much as the term ‘imperative’ is. The name is derived, of course, from ‘perform’, the usual verb with the noun ‘action’: it indicates that the issuing of the utterance is the performing of an action-it is not normally thought of as just saying something. (Austin 1962, 7) For Austin, a performative is not a statement of truth; it is not verifiable, but rather concerns solely the action. “I do” speaks of the action of “doing” not of whether that action is good or bad, true or false. In other words, the performative is not subject to the traditional representational conditions of truth.14 In contrast to the performative, however, the constative can be verified. According to Austin, the constative, unlike the performative, is a statement of fact. For Levinas, Saying or speech is the way to unwork the ontological reification of the subject to the Other. “the Saying is the sheer radically of human speaking, of the 12 And, of course, this essay itself is a constative of Levinas’ performative. 13For a detailed analysis of the performative and constative, see Austin’s How To Do Things With Words. Also cruical is Jacques Derrida’s Limited Inc., which offers a “deconstructive” reading of Austin and his student John Searle. See also, Judith Butler’s Bodies That Matter, esp. the chapter “Paris is Burning” to see how the problematic of gender enters into the performative discourse. 14 For a complication of truth as representational see Section 44 of Being and Time, as well as Heidegger’s Essence of Truth.


71 event of being in relation with the Other; it is the non-thematizable ethical residue (AE 23/OB 18) of language that escapes comprehension, interrupts philosophy, and is the very enactment of the ethical movement form the Same [of ontology] to the Other.” (Critchley 1991,) Thus, for Levinas, the Saying is a performative that cannot be reduced to a constative, to the calculative functions of truth and identity. The Saying is not descriptive. Levinas employs the term Said to describe the prepositional, or constative, function of philosophy/ontology. The Saying, unlike the Said, opens up an “exposure to the other.” The Saying opens up a relation15 to the Other unmediated by being, the face to face. In other words, the Saying is in excess of any mediation of being, nor can this performative be Said. The Said, in contrast, is constative and occurs when the Saying is reduced to meaning, wherein it is static, becomes codifiable, and is brought back into philosophy, or the Same. As Simon Critchley states, “Saying is the sheer radicality of human speaking, of the event of being within a relation with an Other; it is non-thematical ethical residue of language that escapes comprehension, interrupts philosophy, and is the very inactment of the ethical movement from Same to the Other.” (Critchley 1991, 7) Thus, “the ethical movement from Same to Other” opens up a relation more primal and direct, always performative, which “interrupts” the constative, or ontological relation of philosophy. According to Levinas, the performativity of Saying exposes me to the Other, creating an opening to the Other that cannot be refused nor closed by philosophy. 15 Jill Robbins makes the point that “The other is not a relation but a surplus (ROBBINS 4) radical asymmetry.” Thus Levinas’s “relation,” unmediated or predicated by ontology, is a non-relation, asymmetrical.


72 Critchley argues that “The Saying is my exposure—corporeal, sensible—to the Other, my inability to refuse the Other’s approach. It is a performative stating, proposing, or expressive position of myself facing the Other. It is a verbal or non-verbal ethical performance, whose essence cannot be caught in constative prepositions. It is a performative doing that cannot be reduced to a constative description. (Critchley 1991, 7) For Levinas, this performative operation of Saying occurs in the “face to face,” in which the Other is greeted without being reduced to the Same. It is important to understand that the face to face is not just another figure in the history of Western philosophy such as the subject/object split or Dasein being-with another Dasein. As Robbins asserts, “The face is always on the move.”(Robbins 1999, 48) It is a performative, which opens up the relation to the Other. As Robbins states, “the face is performative and not personified. It does not represent an actual face, but rather opens up the ethical relation with the Other. While, on the other hand, “the Said,” as Robbins continues, “is the linguistic equivalent of the economy of the Same. The Saying and the Said is a correlative relation (exceeding correlation) that marks the difference between a constative speech, oriented toward its addressee, interlocutionary and ethical, and a speech oriented toward the referent, more like a speaking about than a speaking to the other.”(Robbins 1999,144) Again, we can see that the Saying is a performative that does not speak about the Other, as philosophy does, but rather, the Saying speaks to the Other, an absolutely crucial distinction for Levinas. That stated, how is the Saying not reduced or brought back to the Said? And yet, is it possible to maintain the distinction between the Saying and the Said? Have I said too much about Levinas’s performativity? Is not the Saying at risk of falling back into the


73 Said as the performative is described or reinscribed back into philosophy? In other words, does not the Saying once described become Said? Does not the performative, once understood return to the Same, the Said, philosophy? As Critchley notes, “Given that philosophy speaks the language of the Said—that is, it consists of propositions and statements--: How is the Saying, my exposure to the Other, to be Said or given a philosophical exposition without utterly betraying this Saying? How can one write the otherwise than Being in the language of Being...? 16 (Critchley 1991,164) We can now see the importance of Saying as a performative for Levinas as well as how the Said as constative reifies the ontological relation that he attempts to unwork.17 On Art and Rhetoric Levinas views both aesthetics and classical rhetoric as antithetical to his ethical project. His conception of rhetoric and aesthetics goes back to the Platonic conception of art as a representation, or image, of a representation of truth, or being. For Levinas, art as an image, based on Plato’s metaphor of the cave, is far removed from truth though still locked within ontological assumptions. Levinas regards rhetoric as a type of “angling,” or sophistry, designed to manipulate language and twist its meaning. In other words, rhetoric goes against the face to face encounter with the Other and attempts to use language to convert the Other, which necessarily objectifies it. Therefore classical rhetoric, for Levinas, manipulates the Other and obfuscates the face to face encounter. 16 For Critchley, the Saying and the Said are of two different temporal orders, and although there is no way to escape the Greek logos that our language is inherently ontological, nonetheless the modes of synchrony and diachrony of the Saying and Said differ. “The Saying is a performative disruption of the Said that is instantly refuted by the language in which it appears (164)16


74 Hence, such conceptions of rhetoric and art would be incommensurable with Levinas’s ethical project. What appears problematic in Levinas’ s notion of art and rhetoric, however, is that he inherits this particular Platonic conception without applying the same critical rigor with which he otherwise is so careful to critique Plato and the ontological tradition of philosophy. In other words, both art and rhetoric are based on ontological presuppositions. Levinas’s view and distrust of art and rhetoric has more to do with the question of ontology and how both art and rhetoric as branches of understanding miss the critical ethical relation. Levinas opposes an aesthetics that would represent, or speak for, the Other, as well as a rhetoric with a set of precepts deployed to manipulate the Other. In other words, art or rhetoric as a set of codes applied to a specific situation is no different, really, than morality or ethics as a branch of philosophy. Thus, any concept of art and rhetoric as well as literary criticism, which applies meaning to art, is necessarily “incommensurable” with Levinas’s ethics. As Jill Robbins states in Altered Reading: any approach to the question of the relationship of Levinas’ philosophy to literature has also to deal with the incommensurability between Levinas’s ethics and the discourse of literary criticism. Literary criticism, whether it is conceived as the determination of a work’s meaning or as an analysis of its formal structures, would be derivative upon Levinas’s more originary question of the ethical, part of what Heidegger calls a regional ontology. Hence Levinas’s philosophy cannot function as an extrinsic approach to the literary work of art, that is, it cannot give rise to an application.” (Robbins 1999, xx) We can see how literary criticism by attempting to interpret meaning and analyze form is already inscribed for Levinas as ontological. Any effort to attribute meaning or to


75 apply a method to a work of art attempts to speak for the Other. What now begins to emerge for Levinas, classical rhetoric as prescriptive, obfuscates or, perhaps, abolishes the possibility of the ethical—an act of ontological violence. According to Levinas, as a system of static devices classical rhetoric could only offer a modality of “angling,” or appropriation, that reduces the relation to a mediation of being. Therefore, both art and rhetoric cannot escape ontology because they are ontology. Does this then mean that Levinas has no interest in aesthetics or rhetoric? That his ethics is incommensurate with any project of criticism and therefore of no use or aid to the student of criticism? In Altered Readings, Jill Robbins suggests that what “Levinas is really interested in is art in relation to ethics, interruption rather than ontology” (Robbins 1999,154). In other words, Levinas could only understand aesthetics and rhetoric as an ethical interruption, a performative, that unworks ontology. What becomes crucial, then, is to begin to think of art and rhetoric not as an ontological relation of the Same that would describe a constative condition, but rather as a performative that radically unworks and brings into question the ontology of relation. What is at stake for Levinas, I would argue, is the problem of how art and rhetoric are conceived traditionally as mimetic. Therefore, the task, in order to face the Other, is to interrupt mimesis.18 In this sense, Levinas is quite interested in aesthetics and rhetoric but not as they are conceived in philosophy, but rather as an “interruption,” as a performative that unworks the literary text as an object of study to which a method could apply or “angle” meaning. What really 18 A crucial text, which haunts and informs my own interest in Levinas and mimesis is Lacoue-Labarthe is, Typography.


76 is at stake for Levinas, and here he is quite close to Blanchot and Derrida19, is the very possibility of the literary, not as static but as something that, perhaps, unworks meaning. The Sacrifice that is not One: a Reading of Andrey Tarkofsky’s “The first thing to describe is the event, not your attribute to it.” “The Sacrifice is a parable. The significant events it contains can be interpreted in more than one way.” --Andrey Tarkofsky. How is it possible to interpret a work of literature in light of Levinas’s radicalization of ethics? Any attempt to apply a theory of Levinas to a work of literature, or film, risks reducing the ethical performative relation back into ontology, mimesis. Again, the question must be asked, what can Levinas offer a student of literary criticism, when literary criticism, as a domain of ontology, reduces the Other to the Same? In other words, any application of Levinas would fail before it began. The problem here is that of mimesis, of representation. Is it possible to approach a literary text without deploying a methodology, without representing Levinas? In the last and infamous scene of Tarkofsky’s The Sacrifice20, Alexander burns down his house, his books, and the map (a gift from the postman Otto21). Alexander, an intellectual, sacrifices his house after WWIII begins—it remains unclear as to whether or not the war is actually taking place or if Alexander has just imagined it. Our question is 19 The relationship between Derrida, Levinas and Blanchot is much more complex than pointed out their similar concern the problematic of the literary. See, for example, Writing of Disaster, and The Space of Literature, Blanchot; Adieu, Derrida 20 While these notes dealing with specific thematic concerns in the film, a productive and developed reading of the filmic qualities of Tarkofsky is cruical. Such a reading might begin with Godard’s comment, “Tracking shots are a question of ethics.” 21 Another productive reading could explore both the gift and the postman. See Derrida’s The Postcard and Given Time.


77 how do we read this sacrifice? Is the sacrifice something to bring about harmony? Is it to bring about an exchange—to sacrifice oneself in order to save others? In other words, does the one who sacrifices expect something in return? If so, then it would fall into the economy of mimesis because it would require something from the Other—an exchange. The event of the sacrifice would be reduced to a constative, the Said. The agreement in advance of the sacrifice would explain (away) the event, would close off the face to face with the Other. Vital to our concern with the sacrifice is the (im)possibility of an event, the event of sacrifice. In other words, if we look at the event of the sacrifice as a performative, then understanding the event, applying meaning to it, becomes impossible. In Sculpting in Time, Tarkofsky conveys his idea of sacrifice: What moved me was the theme of the harmony which is born only of sacrifice, the twofold dependence of love . . . .I am interested in the character who is capable of sacrificing himself and his way of life—regardless of whether that sacrifice is made in the name of spiritual values, or for the sake of someone else, or of his own salvation, or of all these things together. Such behavior precludes, by it very nature, all of those selfish interests that make up a ‘normal’ rationale for action; it refutes the laws of a materialistic worldview. It is often absurd and unpractical. And yet—or indeed for that very reason—the man who acts in this way brings about fundamental changes in people’s lives and in the course of history. The space he lives in becomes a rare, distinctive point of contrast to the empirical concepts of our experience, an area where reality—I would say—is all the more strongly present. (Tarkofsky 217-18, 1996) The question we have to ask is whether or not Alexander’s sacrifice can be seen as harmonious. If the sacrifice is a gift in order to exchange oneself to prevent a greater disaster, such as the annihilation of the world, we must ask whether or not such an exchange is mimetic. In other words, does a sacrifice, if understood as harmonious, really offer itself to the Other, or does it impose its own demands, in which case it would be the Said? I sacrifice myself in order that the Other accepts my demands. For Levinas, this form of sacrifice would obliterate the face to face of the Other. Remember that the


78 face to face makes no demands on the Other and interrupts any attempt to do so. Rather than opening up to the Other an unconditional gift, if such as thing is possible, sacrifice for the sake of harmony is mimetic—it is an exchange within the economy of the Same—the face is closed off from the self who sacrifices itself. In other words, the performative of the sacrifice is already inscribed as predetermined or stated by the self who sacrifices—this is ontological par excellence. However, it is possible to read The Sacrifice against the grain of how Tarkofsky describes it in Sculpting in Time. I would argue that rather than look at the event of the sacrifice as constative, as ontological, as Said, as speaking for the Other, it is vital to think of the sacrifice, the event itself, as a performative interruption and impossible to determine, to assign it meaning. The performative Saying exceeds any agreement, contract or exchange; it does not attempt to get an “angle” on the Other. The event of the burning house, of Alexander running away from the ambulance drivers, all of this is only the affect of the interruption of the event, the sacrifice, which we cannot experience. Remember that experience remains part and parcel of ontology and the subject, the “I.” A cue to this unsettling event, to the performative or asymmetrical relation of the sacrifice comes in the final scene. Alexander’s son, the “little man,” is lying under the Japanese tree that he and his father planted at the beginning of the film. The ambulance carrying Alexander passes by the boy, and it is uncanny and strange that this does not affect him. Throughout the film, the boy had not spoken because of a throat operation that took place outside of the film. The boy looks up at the sky as the camera begins to pan up the tree and breaks his silence: “In the beginning was the Word...Why is that papa?” In Sculpting in Time, Tarkofsky sees addressing the father as perhaps


79 Christian—as recalling Christ’s sacrifice. Christ’s sacrifice makes demands on the Other by calling on people to renounce their sins. Christ’s sacrifice does not face the Other, but rather makes demands on the Other. But if we look at the sacrifice as performative, something that resists meaning, or exceeds or interrupts meaning, what Christ Said, then we can begin to see how the act of the sacrifice faces the Other without demand. The “little man’s” constative statement, “In the beginning was the Word,” is out of place. It should have taken place before the disaster, the sacrifice, but rather is a strange affect displaced after the event; the beginning should precede the disaster. The boy’s calmness, the uncanniness of his speech, indicates that something is out of joint. Any meaning or definitive explanation is off frame, outside of what is given. The constative grounding, or explanation of the meaning of the sacrifice, is displaced by the unknowable and undecidable, the performativity of the sacrifice. The sacrifice is not harmonious, or Said, but rather is performative, outside the demands of the self on the Other. Through performativity the sacrifice opens up the only possibility of the face to face with the Other—there are no demands of the self in the (im)possibility of the disaster.22 After the displaced constative, comes the boy’s interrogative, “Why is that papa?” Aside from the strangeness of the boy addressing his father by looking up at the sky just after his father passes by in the ambulance, the unanswered question itself fails to address the performativity of the event, of the sacrifice. The question, or what Heidegger calls the “piety of the question,”23 comes after the displaced constative and cannot get to the performativity of the event because the question is ontological, it demands meaning, the 22 For more on the disaster, see Blanchot’s The Writing of the Disaster. 23 For a rigorous complication of Heidegger’s question, see Derrida’s Of Spirit: Heidegger and the Question.


80 Said. In other words, the sacrifice, read as performance, unworks the ontological basis of the question—thus, the sacrifice is an interruption, a Saying that opens up the face to face. In this way the question can only address or explore the ontological nature and the essence of something knowable, of something that can be Said. The sacrifice appears to have two distinct forms. That of the constative and performative. The first we have witnessed in the case of Che. With Che, we have the classical sacrifice in which the puppy is murdered. It follows a constative utterance as he commands Felix “to strangle the puppy.” It is a calculation with an organic structure, or economy, based on a practical political expediency in which the animal is lower in the hierarchy of man and animal. At best, they are cute or we eat them, and in the moment of revolutionary crisis, if necessary, sacrifice them. Though I still want to keep in mind that Che did refer to the animal’s death as a “murder.24” But nonetheless, and of importance for our argument, the political expediency is a model of mastery, of man over animal, and also, keeping loyal to the hierarchy, even of man over man. Che is clearly working within the Judeo-Christian tradition and his sacrifice would not even register on the level of ethics for many because it already assumes the ontological and hierarchical division of the human and the animal. Another way of conceiving of the sacrifice is along Levinas’s lines of a performativity. As a will develop in the final chapter, the performance art group Laibach becomes a far more radical attempt at sacrifice than that of Che is political calculation and expediency. Laibach, according to iek’s reading, become their own “Jews” by 24 The fact that Che did continue to refer to the puppy’s death as a murder could be further explored in another context. Strictly speaking how can an animal be ‘murdered,’ and not just killed? Does not murder imply that the animal has some right to law as that of a human.


81 sacrificing themselves. What they achieve, in effect, is to provoke a fascistic or totalitarian impulse in the audience, whether during a live performance, or in the greater spectacle of the press. As they appear to embody totalitarianism by mimicking the dress and gestures of Stalin and Hitler, what they bring about is a totalitarian response their general and, and I would add, poor readers. They expose a hidden fascism at large that still functions everyday within the state, but is no longer recognized as such. The extraverted, almost comic manner in which stage “their” fascistic tastes, pisses off people so much that they turn their anger toward Laibach. In this way, Laibach becomes their own “Jews.” This type performance art has a performative quality to it in that Laibach stages themselves on the stage, and open the question of fascism out of an old historicist logic in which it has already passed, that of a constative mode, i.e., this is how the fascists looked and dressed in their day, to a more vital and performative challenge that cuts through the ontological determination and attempt to show, by means of performance, that fascism is not dead and must be read performatively. They perform Agamben’s insight in The Coming Community that “we still live under the sign of fascism and Nazism.” Now turning back to Tarkofsky, the question never reaches the performativity of the event or sacrifice. In this sense, both the constative utterance and the question of the boy are displaced and cannot get at the event, the performativity of the sacrifice. In order to open up the face to face with the Other, the sacrifice must unwork (interrupt) the demands of the self on the Other, the harmony of exchange. One wonders if even Levinas would be able to see such a sacrifice, since what Tarkofsky does is to bear witness through the eye of the camera, and hope, that we, as readers, bear witness.


CHAPTER 4 NANCY The peace of humanism is without force or grandeur it is nothing other than the enervation of war. -Jean-Luc Nancy On all side the interruption turns community toward the outside instead of gathering it in toward a center—or its center is the geographical locus of an indefinitely multiple exposition...The interrupted community does not flee from itself: but it does not belong to itself, it does not congregate, it communicates itself from one singular place to another. -Jean-Luc Nancy Introduction: the Singularity of Sarajevo What we have seen so far has involved various and diverse modes of interruption surrounding such diverse figures as Che, Heidegger, Levinas and Diogenes. With Che, the interruption is fairly straightforward. As a revolutionary, he interrupts the business-as-usual or yet another South American dictator, and with a little help from his friends, manages mainly through ridiculous luck, to take over Cuba. Che interruption has also become spectral in the sense that he haunts and invokes the spirit of the underdog. For example, in Ulysses’ Gaze, it is not by coincidence that A. and his friend drink a toast to Che and Mai. Nor is it by chance that Che is presence was felt in at the barricades. Another interruptive figure is Heidegger, whose interruptive force of rethinking the question of being. What is forgotten in Heidegger is interruption in a more radical sense as he folds himself back into a humanism over the question and problematic of the animal. With Levinas there is the interruptive call of the Other—a singular notion 82


83 of transcendent Otherness, which seems not to fully realize the interruptive nature of the call from one singular phase to another in his transcendent concept of Otherness. He misses, as we shall see with Nancy, how singularities communicate. In the case of Diogenes, we witness a mode of interruption of the city, namely Athens, through his non-rational singularity and otherness. Diogenes mocks Plato’s cave, and Republic, by walking through the streets backwards in broad daylight with a lantern looking for an honest man, or defacing the currency of his native Sinope, or disruptive the marketplace in Athens. Such performances signal a Diogenic mode of interruption of the city, the home of philosophy, politics and the polis, through its non-rational singularity and otherness. Jean-Luc Nancy in Being Singular Plural writes of the question of Sarajevo. For Nancy, Sarajevo becomes a “testimonial name,” a figure to bear witness to the violence of the Balkan War. At stake, is the question of how to figure a new way of conceiving community, of a community that would offer a political formation without violence? Of course, for Nancy, not only is there the immediate violence of the war itself, but the very philosophical structuring that makes such a practice possible: This is the “earth” we are supposed to “inhabit” today, the earth for which the name Sarajevo will become the martyr-name, the testimonial name: this is us, we who are supposed to say we as if we know what we are saying and who we are talking about. (Nancy xiii) What Nancy brings to our attention is the problematic of war, atrocity and of another crisis in Europe. Sarajevo becomes more than just another ‘instant’ of violence, of political agendas being carried out. Nancy reads Sarajevo as a figure of violence, as a structure of humanistic discourse, of humanism proper. Nancy’s critique of humanism finds echoes elsewhere in the readings of Lacoue-Labarthe and Derrida, and the key to


84 understanding and moving towards a new ethics, as the singular example of Sarajevo shows, is the critique of, and concomitant abandonment of an adherence to humanism. This is in no way to deny the specific carnage of Sarajevo, of the sufferings of its inhabitants. Rather, such a reading of Sarajevo lets the very apparatus of this city in ruins speak. What I propose is that one can look at Nancy’s reading of Sarajevo as an “object” of study in a way similar to that of Deleuze reading cinema. Sarajevo is a singularity that generated concepts for philosophy, or as in our case, the deconstruction of the philosophical proper.1 The hope here is that something else might emerge to create a new concept of a city (polis) without violence. In this manner, perhaps, from the very ruins of ontology, a new polis, and new politics can emerge: Of a city in ruins, of an ontology in ruins, a ethics of becomings, of intensities morphing and merging the gaps and fissures, a possibility of animal surfaces and inhuman depths. In order to conceive of such things, vital to such an undertaking is the necessity, demonstrated by Nancy of going back to the origins of the city as the problem of the philosophical, as well as the origin of the political in the West. Also, Nancy argues it becomes necessary to understand the inherent dangers of thinking not only of the political as the ontological, but how the notion of the origin is itself part and parcel of a classical manner of conceiving of the political. In Being Singular Plural Nancy articulates origin of the philosophical and the city: According to different versions, but in a predominantly uniform manner, the tradition put forward a representation according to which philosophy and the city would be (would have been, must have been) related to one another as subjects. Accordingly, philosophy, as the articulation of logos, is the subject of the city, where the city is the space of this articulation. Likewise, the city, as the gathering 1 This will be further expanded and articulated in Chapter Five when I do a close reading of Laibach and Ulysses’s Gaze.


85 of the logikoi, is the subject of philosophy, where philosophy is the production of their common logos. Logos itself, then, contains the essence or meaning of this reciprocity: it is the common foundation of community, where community, in turn, is the foundation of Being. (Nancy 23) What, then, becomes crucial to understand is how politics itself is tied to the very of notion of the city; it is the city in this classical Western sense. Within this classical configuration the ontological is not something added to the city, but rather is the very constitution of how the city is understood--this being the case. The problem is not only the specific historical violence of Sarajevo, but also how the proper name of Sarajevo is necessary such violence to occur. Sarajevo becomes, already, an exemplary city of (for) the West, of an ontological and humanist construction. “Sarajevo” has become the expression of a complete system for the reduction to identity. It is no longer a sign on the way, or a sign in history; it is no longer a possible destination for business trips or illicit rendezvous, or the uncertain space for a fortuitous meeting or distracted wandering. It is a dimension-less point on a diagram of sovereignty, an ortho-normative gauge on a ballistic and political computer, a target frozen in a telescopic sight, and it is the very figure of the exactitude of taking aim, the pure taking aim of an essence. Somewhere, a pure Subject declares that it is the People, the Law, the State, the Identity in the name of which “Sarajevo” must be identified purely and simply as a target. (Nancy 145) Sarajevo as an “expression of a complete system [of] the reduction to identity” (145) becomes a Subject outside of its particularity, its otherwise infrangible and immanent possibilities, and traversals of ontologies, secrets and drives. The subject, the Cartesian subject par excellence, must step outside history, its singularity, in order to ‘be’ in its history. This transcendence arrests in advance, being singular plural.2 The question becomes, how can a city in the classical sense be understood as a Cartesian subject, a subject with a cogito. It is not a matter of a city having a consciousness per se, but rather to expose the limit-case of assigning consciousness to the 2 I will address Nancy’s notion of singularity later in the chapter.


86 construction of a subject. Thus, in a classical sense Nancy state that a “pure Subject declares that it is the people, the Law, [and] the State.” For Nancy this finitude is "historically defined existence," and has no essence, but rather is an "unsublatable differential relation "(vii) Nancy's idea of relation that unworks the Absolute, e.g. the "Individual, the Subject, the State, the Work of Art, etc." While the absolute requires itself to be beyond relation, what effect occurs is that there is a relation which is not fixed outside the absolute, but rather unworks the possibility of the absolute itself, doesn't allow the absolute (concept) to take place: This ab-solute can appear in the form of an Idea, History, the Individual, the State, Science, the Work of Art, and so on. Its logic will always be the same inasmuch as it is without relation. [However,] ..the logic of the absolute violates the absolute. It implicates it in a relation that it refuses and precludes by its essence. This relation tears and forces it open, from within and from without at the same time, and from an outside that is nothing other than the rejection of an impossible interiority, the "without relation" from which the absolute would constitute itself (4) Nancy then goes on to show how community, excluded by the logic of the absolute, unworks the inner logic or essence necessary for the absolute to function. In other words, the finitude of community (relationality) cuts through the absolute: Excluded by the logic of the absolute-subject of metaphysics (Self, Will, Life, Spirit, etc.), community comes perforce to cut into this subject by virtue of this same logic. The logic of the absolute sets it in relation: but this, obviously, cannot make for a relation between two or several absolutes, no more than it can make an absolute of the relation. It undoes the absoluteness of the absolute. The relation (community) is, if it is, nothing other than what it undoes, in its very principle—and at its closure or on it limit—the autarchy of absolute immanence. (4) Thus for Nancy such Absolutes as the State, the Individual, etc., are not separated by a fixed and formally conceivable relation, but rather the relation itself is always already contaminated in the absolute. The relation unworks the assertion of a conceptual totality, and, for Nancy, this is the site of community, which is also the site of the political as I will further develop towards the end of the chapter.


87 Such a classical declaration as city, subject and state assume a moment outside of themselves. Thus, concepts as the Law and the State, as Nancy articulates in the above passages, really imply something similar to Walter Benjamin’s notion of an “empty historical time.” What’s at stake is the concept of a city as an abstraction or moment of transcendence. Sarajevo is reduced to Identity. The singularities are reduced to identities. This is the moment or operation of violence as such. The reduction of life to identity, to freezing into a concept, to a metaphysics. In a similar manner, Derrida speaks of how the name “animal” is a violent reduction of living things named by one living creature, “man” as a way of othering the animal as less than man. And more than that, of reducing all living creatures other than man as “animals.” Such a violence, a taxonomy has it roots in metaphysics and classical ontology. From a structural standpoint, the inhabitants of Sarajevo can no longer live as singularities but are now reduced to being-Muslim and being-Croat. In this regard, it is the essence that is being targeted. Therefore, such a moment of ontologizing the city and it’s inhabitants reduces the ‘people’ to “targets” of identity as the “enemy,” the “other” etc. Thus, Nancy describes “a frozen target in a telescopic is the pure taking aim of an essence.” What obviously is being shot at are people, human beings. But more slight and sinister, is that the person with the gun is aiming at an “essence” of the enemy whether a child, grandmother or soldier. In this gesture there’s a doubling, for once the person “targets” the enemy they too reduce themselves to an essence, by misconceiving of themselves through such classical philosophical and humanistic registers—being a human being. It is the “being” of the “being-with” that’s taking the hits. In other words, it is the reduction of singularity to essence that produces, in effect, the ontological notion; one might say


88 ontology, of the subject, of the human. The human marks a hierarchy and transcendence of classicism, that then divides and separates the human from the animal. [Deleuze/spinona/surface] How Nancy articulates singularity as ‘opposed’ to the transcendental which produces hierarchies, will be explored in this chapter. However, it is first necessary to understand the critical differences between how Nancy and Heidegger understand the concept of “being-with.” “Being-with” signifies the importance of relation. Relation, or more precisely, how we conceive of the concept of relation, is what weaves or ties together the boundaries between humans and animals, and between humans and other humans. Thus, relation becomes the critical articulation of how to conceive of community, of the “being-with” of community. This is precisely the humanist community that needs to be deconstructed. In order to fully grasp the significance of the idea of a humanist community and the notion of the “being-with” it’s crucial to explore and develop Nancy’s understanding of a community without unity. Nancy takes to task the tradition of community as togetherness, as a human community. In Being Singular Plural he offers a reworking of Heidegger’s notion of the “mitsein, “ of “being-with.” To really get at the complexity and nuance of Nancy’s thought, it is necessary to take a look at Heidegger’s understanding of ontology and “being-with.” “being-with” Heidegger and Nancy Heidegger’s radical ‘destruction’ of the occident in Being and Time opened up for our purposes two critical notions for reevaluating philosophy. The first was again to take serious the question of being, and to articulate a notion of a “fundamental ontology” as opposed to classical ontology, or ontology as understood from Plato to Hegel, what


89 Blanchot refers to as “the book3.” The second vital contribution involves the notion of finitude, of the finitude of Dasein, of Dasein’s temporality, as the way to understand being. Finitude is what Nancy locates as the crucial limit-case to work through questions of ontology, the city, and of any modality that could traverse the human, and a human-ist community. Fundamental ontology, which Heidegger understood as a “transcendental hermeneutic phenomenology,” was before or prior to the occident’s understanding of ontology. What the occident grasps as ontology, Heidegger would consider to be ontic, as “objective presence.” In order to demonstrate how a fundamental ontology exists, Heidegger fashioned the concept of Dasein as “being-in, being-in-the-world.” According to Heidegger, “One look at traditional ontology shows us that one skips over the phenomenon of the worldiness when one fails to see the constitution of Dasein of being-in-the-world.” (61) However, “With regard to the problem of an ontological analysis of the worldilness of the world, traditional ontology is at a dead-end-if it sees the problem at all.” (61) Heidegger’s contribution is to ‘dis-cover’ the world of Dasein. Dasein, it’s ‘being-there,’ is more primordial than its precursor, the Cartesian subject. For Heidegger, as he explicates at length in Being and Time, Descartes’ Subject is predicated on a traditional ontological notion. In such a way, the body of Descartes, res extensia, is ontic. Conversely, the other half of Descartes, so to speak, that which thinks, is of the same 3 In The Infinite Conversation Blanchot states, “When I speak of “the end of the book,” or better, “the absence of the book,” I do not mean to allude to developments in the audio-visual means of communication with which so many experts are concerned. If one ceased publishing books in favor of communication by voice, image, or machine, this would in no way change the reality of what is called the “book”; on the contrary, language, like speech, would thereby affirm all the more its predominance and its certitude of a possible truth. In other words, the Book always indicates an order that submits to unity, a system of notions in which are affirmed the primacy of speech over writing, of thought over language, and the promise of a communication that would one day be immediate and transparent. [IC, xxii]


90 ontic texture, if you will. Thus the predication and ideology of conscious are ontic phenomena for Heidegger. It is not the mind that thinks, but rather as he shows in the chapter on the “worldiness of the world,” the hand that thinks4. Only when Dasein misses its world, or thinks of its self as a self thinking, and thinking as if it had no world, that it mistakes its self as consciousness somehow beyond, or outside of world, of it’s own existence. An-other transcendent score. My aim here is not to offer a full explication of Dasein but rather, instead, to simply make the point that Dasein is the pivotal key to understanding being-in-the-world and, crucially, for us, to understand how Heidegger’s Dasein radically de-constructs the Cartesian Subject. In working through Nancy’s meditations on community and singularity, it becomes important to see how he reads Heidegger’s understanding of relation, of “being-with.” For Heidegger, collectivity, or community, can no longer to be conceived with a Cartesian notion of the subject. What the tradition, according to Heidegger, understood as ontological, is in fact ontic. If the subject becomes the premise, then the relations between subjects, the possibility of community, would be that of intersubjectivity. Such a notion collapses as viability as its ontological assumptions miss the world, the very finitude that marks Dasein’s existence—the “there” of its finite being. And yet, in order to understand how Dasein relates to another Dasein, Heidegger puts forth the crucial notion of “being-with.” A key aspect of Heidegger’s “being-with” is that it is a condition of the world and how one Dasein encounters another Dasein differs from the way in which a subject 4 Of course, Jacques Derrida will take Heidegger to task over this in “Geschlect II.” Derrida brilliantly demonstrates Heidegger’s “thinking hand” of Dasein does violence to the animal by rashly claiming that a an ape’s hand can’t think. Here Derrida pushes Heidegger’s Dasein to one of its limit-cases and shows how it falls back into a humanism.


91 encounters another subject, which within a Heideggerian understanding is an abstract encounter. In other words, for Heidegger, the way one subject relates to another subject would necessarily assume each subject to be understood ontically. In the following passage, Heidegger makes clear the importance of understanding how one Dasein relates to another Dasein “in” the world involves the notion of “being-with.” Da-sein understands itself, initially and for the most part, in terms of its world, and the Mitda-sein of others is frequently encountered from interworldly things at hand. But when the others come, so to speak, thematic in their Da-sein, they are not encountered as objectively present [Cartesian subject] thing-persons, but we meet them “at work,” that is, primarily in their being-in-the-world. Even when we see the other “just standing around,” he is never understood as a human-thing objectively present. “Standing around” is an existential mode of being, the lingering with everything and nothing which lacks heedfullness and circumspection. The other is encountered in his Mitda-sein in the world...we must not overlook the fact that we are also using the term Mitda-sein as a designation of the being to which the existing others are freed within the world. The mitda-sein of others is disclosed only within the world for a Da-sein and thus also for those who are mitda-sein, because Da-sein in itself is essentially being-with. The phenomenological statement that Da-sein is essentially being-with has an existential-ontological meaning...Being-with existentially determines Da-sein even when an other is not factically present and perceived...Mitda-sein characterizes the Da-sein of others in that it is freed for a being-with by the world of that being-with. Only because it has the essential structure of being-with, is one’s own Da-sein Mitda-sein as encounterable by others. (113) [italics mine] In the dense passage above Heidegger opens up a critical difference of understanding collectivity and relation from the way in which it had been conceived before, from Plato, to dialectics, to phenomenology. Heidegger’s conception of world and of Dasein being-in-the-world seeks to ‘destroy’ the abstract notion of being as understood by the tradition from again Plato to Hegel. Necessarily, the Cartesian subjectum or dialectics, predicted upon such a subject, for that matter, all are falsely predicated upon a mis-conceived notion of ontology. Heidegger’s “fundamental ontology,” that of “world” lies before and in place of a classical and abstracted being. Of course, it is Dasein and not the subject that primordially ‘occupies’ world. Thus

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92 Heidegger articulates the notion of mitdasein to demonstrate how one Dasein relates to another. This is not simply an encounter between individuals, or two particular Daseins either. Instead, being-with constitutes how Dasein always already is in the world and relates to another Dasein. In this regard, being-with is not a problem of two individuals encountering one another and is instead part and parcel of the structure of world. Later, Heidegger Of equal importance is how the later Heidegger of “Building Dwelling Thinking” also misses Nancy’s more radical thinking beyond being and the city proper. Along with “What are Poets for”, “Building Dwelling Thinking” represents one of Heidegger’s more crucial attacks on a commodity of being. It is here that Heidegger further articulates his notion of a fourfold which involves mortals, gods, sky and earth. In this lecture, Heidegger meditates on thought and dwelling as a type of building. He example is a bridge: The bridge is a thing of this sort. The location allows the simple onefold of earth and sky, of divinities and mortals, to enter into a site by arranging the site into spaces. The location makes room for the fourfold in a double sense. The location admits the fourfold and installs the fourfold. The two—making room in the sense of admitting and in the sense of installing—belong together. As a double space-making, the location is a shelter for the fourfold or, by the same token, a house [one could add a State or a city.] Things like such locations shelter or house men’s lives. Things of this sort are housings, though not necessarily dwelling-houses in the narrower sense. (158) For Heidegger location is not an empirical or ontic site, nor more than is space geometrical or a simple extensio in the Cartesian sense, and I am reminding of Henri Lefebvre’s important work on The Production of Space which also moves against a measurable or calculated conception of space. While Heidegger warns against an appropriation of the thing, and of dwelling, he nonetheless can get out of the house. I see this a happening in two crucial moments. On the one hand, Heidegger goes demonstrate

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93 a material (not empirical) fashion, nonetheless Dwelling goes not go far enough in terms of the State. Their remains a metaphor throughout of construction and the city is not addressed, or even seen as a problem. Again, the city as philosophy. The city is a blind spot for Heidegger, as its haunting presence is never taken to be a problem. In this manner, Heidegger’s step beyond philosophy brings him back into the classical city. On the other hand, the question of the mortals as an intrinsic dynamic to the fourfold closes off the question of the animal. Both animals are deprived of their mortality and suffering, as “only man dies, and indeed continually, as long as he remains on earth, under the sky, before the divinities.” (150) And the animal is somewhere and somehow on “earth [which] is the serving bearer, blossoming and fruiting, spreading out in rock and water, rising up into plant and animal.” (151) Stepping back from Heidegger’s concept of “dwelling” and “being-with” the question now becomes what are the stakes of this being-with for Nancy? How does Nancy read “being-with”? Crucial to this question is the problem of relation and how to understand the “city” or State, which classically always is made up of individuals, or subjects, and begin to rethink the city and community counter-intuitively to the human-ist tradition. Nancy reads the “with” as opening up a crucial difference that exceeds Heideggerian ontology. The things I see at stake here involve the problem of the origin, which is simultaneously a problem of meta-physics, of ontology, and of humanism. Linked to this is a problem of the political and how to think through the stakes of the political, of a politics without ontology. For Nancy, it’s crucial to unwork the very notion of metaphysics of presence, of an idea of relation that assumes Being as its mediation. In

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94 Agamben’s The Coming Community is also express a notion of singularity by means of the “whatever” to demonstrate something that is neither individual or universal: The Whatever in question here relates to singularity not in its indifference with respect to a common property (to a concept, for example: being red, being French, being Muslim), but only in its being such as it is. Singularity is thus freed from the false dilemma that obliges knowledge to choose between the ineffability of the individual and the intelligibility of the universal. (Agamben 2,2) Getting back to Nancy, he states, ‘”Heidegger designated it in positing ‘being-with’ as constitutive of ‘being there.’” (34) Relation for Heidegger is ontology. In other words, for Nancy as well as Derrida in another context5, Heidegger still holds on to ‘Being” even though he has opened up an event and intervention into traditional conceptions of ontology. In this manner, Heidegger’s fundamental ontology folds him back into a humanism. In spite of Heidegger’s articulate attacks on the philosophical “embarrassment” of dialectics, he comes back to such a con-servative move by holding onto (onta) being. Nancy is seeking to overcome the recuperation into metaphysics that Heidegger inadvertently effects, via the ontological determination of the mit-sein within the da-sein. What I hope to show as emerging in Nancy’s deconstruction of the mitsein and ontology involves a thinking through the political without ontology as an ethical operation. Such an ethical operation could not fall back upon ontology and thus could no longer “be” conceived as a branch of ontology, which Levinas’s meditations have already shown us. The question becomes really a becoming beyond the question of a hermeneutic, of a closed system of thinking, of a hermeneutics of “the there.,” da(s)sein. But before going into what such an ethics might look like and demonstrating such a 5 Actually throughout Derrida’s writing both implicitly and explicitly Heidegger’s return to the presence of being is always already in the process of deconstruction.

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95 reading in chapter four, let’s move carefully through Nancy’s understanding of the being-with. In Being Singular Plural Nancy takes Heidegger to task over the notion of being-with. Implicit in such a deconstruction of Heideggerian ontology opens up and demands a rethinking of the political, of a political without ontology—at least as understood from Plato to Hegel to Heidegger.6 For Nancy, it seems crucial to unwork the very notion of a metaphysics of presence, of an idea of relation that would how Being as its mediation. Nancy states, ‘”Heidegger designated it in positing ‘being-with’ as constitutive of ‘being there.’” (34) As I understand this, relation here is ontology. Because Nancy is seeking to overcome the recuperation into metaphysics that Heidegger inadvertently effects, via the ontological determination of the mit-sein within the Dasein. In such a modality, “’The one/other is neither ‘by’, nor ‘for’, nor ‘in’, nor ‘despite’, but rather ‘with.’ This ‘with’ is at once both more than ‘relation’ or ‘bond’ (34) As Nancy offers a critique of Heidegger’s articulations of “being-with”, of mitsein, what reemerges is also how the ‘philosophical-political’ are directly linked to the idea of the city as understood by the Greeks. In other words, as Heidegger attempts to ‘deconstruct’ metaphysics by the articulation of ‘world’, and demonstrate how Dasein relates to other Daseins as ‘being-with’ (which for Heidegger is more primordial than intersubjectivity), Nancy, I believe shows how such a conception of ‘being-with’ inscribes a humanism, and the ‘being’ of this ‘with’ locates Heidegger into a ‘regional ontology.’ The being-with is a humanism to the extent that it relies on the familiarity of ‘those like us’, and it’s not too far a step to understand how the mitsein is implicated in the mit-uns. It would be interesting to further think through how Heidegger’s Rektoratsrede is a moment of humanism, and of the philosophical-political as the ‘presencing’ of community and city (or perhaps nationalism.) Heidegger is unable to make the move beyond humanism, and following Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe is careful 6 While there is no time here to explore ontology through a Spinozean reading, it would nonetheless to fruitful to think through how a different “tradition” or counter-tradition from Spinoza to Deleuze to Negri understands the ontology as immanence. Such a constitutive and transformative trajectory also conceives of totality as something without transcendence, without the role of a transcendent negative that classifies and separates beings from one another in a hierarchy, such as God, man and animal.

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96 readings of Heidegger Rektoratsrede, it is the move from a seemingly singular Dasein of Being and Time to the collective Dasein of 1933, that marks Heidegger’s political ontology. In Lacoue-Labarthe is essay, “Transcendence Ends in Politics,” careful reads Heidegger’s relation between Dasein, world and community. The world is the condition of possibility of relation in general. To outline for Dasein its own possibilities . . . to break down into what is form the midst of what is in going beyond it, to come into one’s own power-to-be, is each time open to the possibility of community, of being-together . . . The world . . . is the condition of the possibility of politics; and the essence of the political, that is to say, the fundamental political agency, is the community as people. If science in its essence—in other words, metaphysics—is the creation or the possibility of the creation of a world, if knowledge is transcendence itself, then it is the ensemble of the political that orders itself, ontologically, in relation to the philosophical. And this is exactly what the Rectoral Address recalls: in all senses the philosophical is the rationale or the foundation of the political (284-5) Lacoue-Labarthe articulates a critical notion of how the essence of the political for Heidegger in the rationale and foundation of the philosophical. This is not to say that Dasein of Being and Time is the same as the Dasein of the German people in the Rektoratsrede, but rather to demonstrate how Heidegger’s fundamental ontology, a “metaphysics of metaphysics” (280) does not leave the city of philosophy proper. Lacoue-Labarthe continues speaking about the Dasein of the German people in the Rektoratsrede: The Dasein in question should be the German people, that the sum of these propositions should amount to designating the German people (in terms that will be used a year later) as the “metaphysical people” par excellence, might be enough to lead one to think that a certain political step has been taken beyond the evident “Eurocentricism,” and that at bottom this political repetition of fundamental ontology, far from being a simple clarification of its “mediated relation” with “national and social questions,” signifies its complete diversion toward politics or its submission to the political. (283)

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97 Lacoue-Labarthe goes on to caution that Heidegger might as well open up “a logic of hegemony” by because “the transcription of fundamental ontology into a political key might have as its deliberate end the delimitation of the political.” (283) Even if the latter is the case, the movement of Dasein and the way in which relation plays out in fundamental ontology, a “metaphysics of metaphysics” still does not leave the ground of a certain political determination, that of the house of being, and of relation understood as ontology. From this point we can now turn to Nancy’s mediations of the “with” of the “being-with” that seek to expose the humanism within ontology, and crucially to refigure a way of understanding community without unity, without man and the human as the center of such reactive articulations. In this regard, the question of the animal, of animality as a limit-case to the human as an ethical way of challenging political ontology, becomes critical. Before moving on to how this works in Nancy, let’s step back to his rethinking of the Heideggerian “being-with” as a way of opening up being singular plural. In contrast to Heidegger, Nancy’s notion of ‘with’ and ‘between’ offer a radical departure from humanism and ‘presence.’ Nancy states: ’With’ is the sharing of time-space; it is the at-the-same-time-in-the-same-place as itself, in itself, shattered. [‘dis-position] It is the instant scaling back of the principle of identity: Being is at the same time in the same place only on the condition of the spacing of the indefinite plurality of singularities.’ Working through the density of the above passage, the ‘with’, the ‘between’, is a sharing that does not involve ontology or thinking relation as ontology, but rather ‘exceeds’ from ‘within.’ The between is the sign of excess and opening, abyssal ex-tesion. The above passage is fruitful for thinking counter-intuitively within, and exceeding any ontology of Being precisely because it admits of a co-extensive heterogeneity within the singular plural. The spacing is difference’s iterability, a spacing

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98 which is also a displacing without any originary figure form which there is a departure. An origin assumes a moment of transcendence, an unmoved mover as it were, that would be before or outside of everything else. This ‘spacing’ is a repetition of difference, “ is the explosion of presence in the original multiplicity of its division.’ (2-3) Critical then is how such a difference communicates, or really circulates. It’s how a community without unity, a community without ontology, touches other singularities. Nancy speaks of eternal return and of ‘circulation’, and how thought moves. “Circulation goes in all directions: this is the Nietzschean thought of the ‘eternal return,’ the affirmation of meaning as the repetition of the instant, nothing but this repetition, and as a result, nothing (since it is a matter of the repetition of what essentially does not return.) (3) This repeating without coming back is further articulated by Julian Wolfreys descriptions of chain links—always in ‘excess’ of a circle yet also ‘within.’ As Nancy articulates, “The ‘outside’ of the origin is the ‘inside’—in an inside more interior than the extreme interior, that is, more interior than the intimacy of the world and the intimacy that belongs to me.” This is quite different than Heidegger’s idea that Dasein is always mine there-by always a hermeneutic of the ‘there.’ To connect how ‘circulation’ and ‘eternal return’ are a way of thinking through the question of animality, of becoming-animality. Of how to think not of ontological bodies of a human and an animal interacting, but rather how singularities or thought moves through or ‘traverses’ such ontological spaces, determi-nations and naming of the ‘philosophical-political’ ontology of the city. Because we do not understand animals has being individuals, does it not follow that each animal, though different from every other animal of the same species, is nonetheless, precisely because it is not human, a figure of endless difference; every dog repeats itself as not itself in every other dog, and thereby

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99 announces both singularity and plurality, in being the same and not the same. What we do is we try to anthropomorphize animals to the extent that we limit their singular plurality; we atomize them, taking away their otherness by making them a bit more ‘human’, as it were. It seems that this is crucial to begin to refigure the very notion of politics, of an ethics that traverses the ontological, the city, and the human-ist. It is an impossible thought, a thinking that does not hold itself back from the circulation it thinks, a thinking of meaning right at the meaning, where its eternity occurs as the truth of its passing. (For instance, at the moment at what I am writing, a brown-and-white cat is crossing the garden, slipping mockingly away, taking my thoughts with it.’) (3) I think the above passage is remarkable in that it illustrates conceiving of thought as ‘assemblages.’ It seems that singularities ‘communicate’ in the way Deleuze speaks of ‘assemblages’ and surfaces. “The ‘between’ is the stretching out and distance opened up by the singular as such, as its spacing of meaning.’ (5) This then relates to the idea of ‘surface,’ as “All of being is in touch with all of being, but the law of touching is separation; moreover, it is the heterogeneity of surfaces that touch each other.”(5) In this dynamic as the cat mocking takes Nancy’s thought in the instance of his writing, as singularities, there are no ontological divisions of a Nancy or a cat per se. Rather, this is a built up of intensities that repeat at that instant but don’t return. “Presence is nowhere other than in a “coming to presence.” We do not have access to a thing or a state, but only to a coming. (14) Nancy states, “The togetherness of singulars is singularity “itself.” It “assembles” them insofar as it spaces them’ they are linked insofar as they are not unified.” (35) I wanted to go back for a moment to the question of how the ‘philosophical-political’ are linked to ontology as a way to begin to unwork this notion of politics as ontology. One way to think this, would be to see that the ‘philosophical-political’ as a

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100 manifestation of ontology; or, to put this another way, the ‘philosophical-political’ is ontological, conventionally thought: it is dependent on ontological constructions that demarcate, gather together the elements of the mit-sein as mit-uns, and produce within itself a series of mirror-effects in order to replicate itself at every level of the assemblage from the micro to the macro. Basically, how to begin to understand the ethical as singularities. To begin understanding the ethical as a question of singularities, it is necessary to apprehend how, despite the fact that I share being with you, and we therefore constitute a plural being (and also a singularity together), yet, you are irreducible to I, and vice versa, and, furthermore, like the animal, we are all singularities moving towards non-existence, so that, most fundamentally, we share the singularity of being, without being mit-sein or being with the animal; to think the singularity of the existent, whether ‘animal’ or ‘human’, is to think a sense of that which touches on each of us Nancy speaks of the “Retreat of the political” and how “it does not signify the disappearance of the political. It only signifies the disappearance of the philosophical presupposition [as opposed to ‘dis-position.] of the whole politico-philosophical order, which is always as ontological presupposition.” (37) Here I think is the place to begin to think about how this ‘disappearance’ of the ‘politico-philosophical order,’ of ‘regional ontology,’ and a humanistic hierarchy, is a question of the ethical. At stake here I see of number of notions crucial to refiguring the question of the ethical, or rather refiguring the ethical of the political. Nancy radicalizes both of these concepts once the ontological foundations that secured them have been, in a sense, deconstructed. Or, to put this another way, once the ontological has been refigured, rethought in terms of ‘difference,’ then the question of ontology transforms, “There is no

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101 difference between the ethical and the ontological: the ‘ethical’ exposes that the ‘ontological’ disposes.” (99) Connected to this are Nancy’s articulations of a ‘critique’ of critique as understood classically as the Negative of dialectics, the importance of Marx and Freud (and Heidegger) as articulations of still a classical understanding of transformation, the questions of collectivity and intersubjectivity as well as refiguring notions of Staging. Also of interest in Nancy’s rethinking of the question of art, which will be important for thinking through how Laibach’s performative strategies might be read. I would like to return to Nancy’s reading of Heidegger, specifically the Heidegger of Being and Time. Crucial, here, is how Heidegger opens up a critique of the Tradition of ontology by means of a “Hermeneutic Transcendental Phenomenology” as a way of articulating a Fundamental ontology. Nancy’s reading of Heidegger begins to shed light for me on how to begin to think of a refiguring of the ethical and political in terms of being singular plural, the surface, assemblage, etc. Important then is Nancy’s “with” of the being-with of Heidegger (and Nancy points out in footnote that the ‘with’ is vital for both Husserl and Heidegger (2001)). For Nancy, Heidegger does not go far enough with the being-with of Dasein, nor does his ‘there’ get at the ‘each time,’ the ‘disposition,’ of any ontology. The ramifications of Heidegger have to do with both a ‘politicizing’ of ontology, of a fascistic notion of Dasein as a collective formation of the German people as well as, at the same time, a humanism that ontologically divides the human from the animal—this is in contradistinction to the work of Deleuze and Nancy where the becoming-animal is an assemblage ‘each time,’ that repeats itself differently ‘each time,’

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102 and exceeds within the ontology of the Same and Other as a mediation by means of the Negative. With my interests in refiguring the ethical and the political, Nancy’s reading of how Heidegger does not follow through with the mitsein, or mit-uns, for that matter, signal a dangerous moment of the political as the Same. Also, of importance here is how Nancy understands the “we” as different from Heidegger’s mitsein as well as ‘intersubjectivity.” As Nancy describes “we” as “Prior to “me” and “you,” the “self” is like “we” that is neither a collective subject nor “intersubjectivity,” but rather the immediate mediation of Being in “(in)itself,” the plural field of the origin.” (94) Before getting back to Heidegger, Nancy makes an important point when he talks about how critique itself must go beyond the metaphysics/ontology of the Same. This is an opening for how I might be able to think of performativity, etc as moving through (crossing through) the regional ontology of the Same and Other. Nancy states: Both theory and praxis of critique demonstrate that, from now on, critique absolutely needs to rest on some principle other than that of ontology of the Other and the Same; it needs an ontology of being-with-me-another, and this ontology must support both the sphere of “nature” and the sphere of “history”, as well as both the “human” and the “non-human.” One significant aspect of above passage shows how critique understood really as the Negative within the sphere of dialectics, of the Same and Other (both Lacan and Levinas?) can only bring back repetition of the Same, that critique itself in this classical modality, not only cannot transform the social field, but also, precisely as a repetition of the Same, reinscribes its self as a humanism, setting into effect the hierarchy of human, nature and animal. Nancy points out the limits of the Negative:

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103 As a dialectic of the same and the other, of the same in the other, of the same as the other, undoes this aporia, but this undoing comes at a price, the price of the dialectic in general. It reveals that the power of the negative which hold the self to the other, the dis-alienating and reappropriative power of alienation itself as the alienation of the same, will always be presupposed as the power of the self, or the Self as this very power. The self remains alone in itself even as it emerges out of itself. What is properly lacking or passed over in this false emergence is the moment of the with. (78) My understanding is that in order to radically transform the political, it is necessary to rethink the entirely hierarchy and ontology of the human and animal as well as how classical critique maintains such divisions. In order to how a radical way out of ontology, the classical, it is necessary to begin to think through the ‘with’ of being-with, and also the way in which Nancy’s cat, at that instance, that singular ‘each time,’ that simultaneity, takes his thought. This assemblage, this surface, connects to an unworking on the substance of ontology, of a self as something of a reflection of it’s own identity, and instead prioritize the ‘between,’ the with of being-with as a repetition of difference whose “Presence is impossible except as co-presence.(62)” We can also see here how be the Logic of Sense and Deleuze’s attack on Platonic works in terms of the ‘powers of the false’ and an order of simulation that denies the Platonic Same, a simulation far more radical than Baudrillard’s Platonic assumptions.) At this point, I want to go back to Nancy’s reading of Heidegger for a moment. While Heidegger privileges ontology, the ontology of the ‘being’ of the ‘with,’ Nancy ‘reverses’ this (to put it crudely.) Nancy: even though Mitsein is coessential with Dasein, it remains in a subordinate position. As such, the whole existential analytic still harbors some principle by which what it opens up is immediately closed off. It is necessary, then, to forcibly reopen a passage somewhere beyond that obstruction which decided the terms of being-with’s fulfillment, and its withdrawal, by replacing it with the ‘people,’ and their ‘destiny.’ (93)

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104 Again, at stake here is precisely the dangers of ontology of politics as a humanism. Heidegger, by missing the “between”, the “with” of being-with, and how such repetitions of ‘each time’, simultaneity, etc traverse the regional ontologies of human and animal, reinscribes himself into a humanism that ends in the logic of the camps. As a way out of humanism, to put this too simply, it seems that the “with” here as dis-position and affirmation, rather than being a dialectic by privileging the ‘being’ of the ‘with,’ and thus going from the Same to Other as the logical necessity of the Negative, this dispersal opens up a more intense possibility of (a nonclassical) collectivity, or assemblage, understood as ‘we’ that is essentially is always ‘with.’ In this manner, perhaps, then, the questions of ethics, or ethics and praxis (99), take on a more radical possibility once ‘freed’ of an ontology of the ‘there,’ where now ‘there,’ for Nancy signals dis-position, a being-with-one-another. This seems a critical move for refiguring the ethical of the political; now as a repetition of difference and affirmation of the ‘with,’ ethics and praxis can be thought of as a transformative clues to the intensities of becoming-inhuman, of the ‘each time’ wherein assemblages traverse the reified or classical substances of human and animal. Nancy asserts, “being-with is the sharing of simulates time-space.” (65) Laibach and Ulysses’ Gaze: Towards a Praxis of Interruption I’d like to briefly discuss Nancy’s notion of ‘staging’ as a way to begin to think about Laibach and my project. The notion of stage as Nancy understands it might help me to radicalize the theatrics of Laibach on stage; also, the epistemological possibilities of a staging that is not simply mimetic and does not arrest performance in advance. Nancy speaks of the stage:

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105 This stageis not a stage in the sense of an artificial space of mimetic representation. It is the stage in the sense of opening of a time-space for the distributions of singularities, each of whom singularly plays the unique and plural role of the ‘self’ or the ‘being-with.’ (66) Here, again, is how, I believe, Nancy’s cat takes ‘his’ thought. The stage as a ‘time-space’ distributes singularities thereby repeating the ‘difference’ of the ‘with’ as a co-presence that assembles intensities ‘before’ any ontology in a classical, representation self. Nancy continues, the “thought” of “us” is not a representational thought (not an idea, or notion, or concept). It is, instead, a praxis and an ethos: the staging of co-appearance, the staging which is co-appearing. We are always already there at each instant. This is no an innovation—but the stage must be reinvented; we must reinvent it each time, each time making our entrance anew. (71) What I find crucial here is now how to think about the “between” and “with” as a praxis and ethos as a way of epistemologically opening up the question of the political, of the political stage. Nancy begins Here, on the contrary, it is always a matter of mediation without a mediator, that is, without the ‘power of the negative’ and its remarkable power to retain its own contradiction, which always defines and fills in [plome] the subject. Mediation without mediator mediates nothing, it is the mid-point [mi-lieu], the place of sharing and crossing through [passage]; that is, it is place tout court and absolutely. (95) So it seems vital to show how the ‘with’ is a mediator without mediation, of how crossing through is that instant of ‘difference’ that repeats itself differently ‘each time’ and how the cat takes Nancy’s thought. A crossing through, such tra-versing is a assemblage, the instant and place without a classical origin (which itself, must function in ‘empty historical time.’) Rather ‘each time’ is a plurality of origins simultaneous. How such an assemblage, or surface, might connect to hauntology and event—the event as the transformation of the political, the refiguring of praxis and ethos.

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106 I see at stake here the question of the sovereign, the ‘sovereign-event,’ of how ‘ecotechnics’ might be a counter way of thinking, or thinking otherwise about such classical or ontological constructions. For Nancy, “[Sovereignty] is the model or schema of “that which has nothing above itself,” of the unsurpassable, the unconditional, or the insubordinable” (131) Implicated in the concept of the sovereign is the question of capital as well as necessity of the construction of (the) human(ism.) Of concern, is how animality might connect to “ecotechnics.”? It also seems crucial that ‘war’ as ‘techne’ is also vital for the logic of the sovereign and that the necessary “...attention devoted to the sovereign of and in war reveals war as techne, as art, the execution or putting to work of sovereignty itself.” (102) This might open up all sorts of questions regarding the aesthetics of the political, of the ontology of the political that miss the ‘disposition,’ the ‘spacing’ of singularities. In addition, Nancy’s descriptions of the concept of mimesis not as representation, or copy, but rather as an End in which physis and techne double each other. This now brings of to the “Event,” and “sovereign-event” as it connects to the Same and the city as a classical philosophico-political articulation of ontology. In other words, the classical city as the idea of a hegemonic or unified whole that is understood by the same abstractions from which a ‘people’ or citizen is formed. Here might be a good point to begin to think about Laibach and the Balkans in relation to Sarajevo as a testimony to the emergence of a non-classical city—I am thinking here specifically of your work on London, of how to not to read the London, but rather a multiplicity of singularities, of Londons. In this way, the ontology of London, of a London that would or could respond to the “what is” gives way to the discontinuous gatherings of

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107 heterogeneous figures and ruins that write the city invisibly. But I’d like to get back specifically to the question of the event and sovereignty. Nancy articulates how war is tried to the sovereign and event: War is also the Event par excellence; it is not an Event in some “history of events” that consists in reciting, one by one, the dates of wars, victories, and treaties, but the Event that suspends and reopens the course of history, the sovereign-event. (107) The question emerges as to how the Event itself is necessarily tied to the sovereign. I understand that this Event is not simply an empirical example of events in an “empty historical time,” but I guess I am not sure of how to think of an Event that is not a sovereign-event, of something that would not be reinscribed into the interests of the State and ontology. the Event as sovereign-event, as the possibility of war as technics, of the State, of a logic of identity, or that of the Same, must also mark the city as the philosophico-political determination of ontology. My interest, in contradistinction to this, is to begin to think of the Event along the lines of Deleuze (Logic of Sense) and Benjamin’s Angel of History. Such thinkers are themselves trying to offer a ‘history’ as ‘Event’ to traverse the logic of the sovereign. Perhaps Laibach’s testimony, strategies and performances might be a way of ‘concretely’ thinking through a counter-event to the sovereignty of the Balkans. I recall in the video that Laibach described Yugoslavia as emerging and disappearing with Modernism—it would be interesting to think about how Nancy ties ‘art’, ‘war’ and ‘technics’ together in relation to the sovereign. Before discussing Nancy’s ‘ecotechnics,’ I’d like to attempt to articulate how Nancy understands physis and techne as mimesis, which is the Same but not identical. This will also upon up how Laibach , for example, is not concerned with representation per se, which I further develop in the next chapter.

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108 Phusis and techne—one could say “birth” and “art”—are two modes of accomplishment and are, in this respect, the Same (but not identical) in their difference: the same as concerns accomplishment in general, as putting to work of carrying out. As a result, they are doubly the “same” with regard to the end; they are not two different finalities, but two different finishes(a comparison that also serves to recall hierarchy which we “quite naturally” set up between these two finishes) Furthermore, ever since Plato and Aristotle, these two modes have constantly referred to one in a double relationship that has come to be know as mimesis: it is not that one copies the other (“copying” is quite impossible in this case), but that each replays the play of the end or ends (of the other, (as), the art or birth of the finish. (117-18) In this long passage, the goals of physis and techne have to do with the End, with accomplishment. So mimesis has to do with a ‘replay’ of the end, that both techne and physis replay each other’s end. How does technics, as a “making appear,” tie into an end or accomplishment? Is the End to be classically understood as teleos? The other question is how a repetition of difference, of ‘disposition,’ might unwork the logic of the Same that classically causes techne and physis to double each other’s end—mimesis. If mimesis is the Same, but not identical, how can we think of techne as a radical repetition of difference within that also simultaneously exceeds the logic and ontology of the Same, of metaphysics? Technics, here, is classical and tied to the sovereign, to the city as ontological—the philosophico-political par excellence. In other words, techne, in this stricture of the Same is “war,” “art,” and humanism. As Nancy states, “the peace of humanism is without force or grandeur; it is nothing other than the enervation of war.” (123) In contrast to a classical techne, if I can put it that way, Nancy’s articulation of ‘ecotechnics’ seems to be a way of refiguring the classical notions of techne and sovereignty. Here, I believe, is what would be at stake in thinking through the ethics of the political. In order to work through the current affairs/dangers of Europe and the decline of the classical, Nancy speaks of “ How is one to think without end, without

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109 finishing, without sovereignty.” (133) It is a matter of deconstructing, or the deconstruction of sovereignty, which has to do with the question, or rather, refiguring of technology and technics. Or, technology as technics, rather than a simple ontic and instrumental means to an end. In this, as I understand it, both the sovereign and capital are pushed to a point of crisis. Ecotechnics, City and Singularity In contrast to the classical notion of the city, Nancy puts forth a notion of “ecotechnics” to counter the legitimacy of a sovereign State, and of a capitalist calculation of the marketplace in which we are all targets: What is called “technology,” or again what I have called ecotechnics (in itself, which would be liberated from capital), is the techne of finitude and spacing. This is no longer the technical means to an End, but techne itself as in-finite end, techne as the existence of finite existence in all its brilliance and violence. It is “technology” itself, but a technology that, of itself, raises the necessity of appropriating its meaning against the appropriative logic of capital and against the sovereign logic of war. (139) Nancy is offering an intervention to the sovereign by a technology, a technicity, whose finitude and spacing would constantly defer the end of the End and the logic of a programme that would End and ontologize itself and its (human) subjects. This, then, as I understand it, would then open up the intervention against the human(ist), capital and the sovereignty of the State by means of a multiple intersection of singularities, of “spacing, not finishing”: Because this world is the world of spacing, not of finishing; because it is the world of the intersection of singularities, not the identification of figures (of individuals or of masses); because it is the world in which, in short, sovereignty is exhausting itself (and, at the same time, resisting this with gestures that are both terrifying and pathetic, for all these reasons, and from within the very heart of the appropriately heart of capital (which itself started sovereignty’s decline), ecotechnics obscurely indicates the techne of a world where sovereignty is nothing. This would be a world where spacing could not be confused with spreading out or gaping open, but only with “intersection.”

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110 Crucial is that war, sovereignty and the capital all depend on the ontology of the subject as human, people, mass, etc. What I see as vital is, again, the interactions of intersections and the connections of singularities that create assemblages, while, at the same time, maintain their differences. Such assemblages, spacing, becoming-animalities, traverse and intervene in the very logic of the human and sovereignty. Connected to such notions of war and sovereignty are crucial issues at stake regarding the Event, the city as the proper name, Sarajevo, and again, the ‘concepts’ of singularity and co-existence as they repeat themselves differently in these later essays. My first concern is with the importance of Nancy’s examination of the idea of the city, of Sarajevo itself. In Eulogy for the Melee, Nancy, writing at the time of the Balkan wars, declares that “’Sarajevo’ has become the expression of a complete system of reduction to identity.” (145) Before examining this further, what I find useful is the ‘philosophical’ way in which Nancy will work through the idea of Sarajevo. What this does not include, perhaps strategically, is a reading of the city itself in terms of the specificity of violence, lines of flight, personal tragedy, etc. I think for my project, looking at Laibach and Ulysses’ Gaze will act as a complement, or reading, to the work of Nancy. As Nancy refers to Sarajevo as “the expression of a complete system for a reduction to identity,” he sets the stage for the violent ontological reduction of the multiplicity of a co-existence of interactions, assemblages, etc and how, by the process of naming, which is also a metaphysical and, urgently in this case, an act of war, Sarajevo freezes into a reified state of violence. “Somewhere, a pure Subject declares that it is the People, the Law, the State, and the Identity in the name of which “Sarajevo” must be identified purely as a

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111 target.” (145) In this way, the logic of the Same, at least as I am trying to understand it, freezes everything and reduces the singularities to a state of being, to the proper name, albeit, Serb, Croat, Bosnian, Other as dialectical. In this essay, Nancy comes of with the notion of the mlange, which repeats differently, the tread or trace of singularity in the other essays. For Nancy, “neither mlange nor identity can be pinned down. They have always already taken place, are always already gone, or always already to come. And they are in common, shared by all, between all, through one another.” In addition to singularity, this also speaks of the notion of the “with” in that such assemblages are ‘before’ and traverse the Subject, the people, and the city as homogeneous, frozen, ontology and arrested in the “empty time.” Finally, regarding this essay, Nancy offers the melee of Hermes [not as hermeneutic!], a melee of messages and paths, bifurcations, substitutions, concurrences of codes, configurations of space, frontiers made to be passed through, so that there can be passages, but ones that are shared, mixed distinguished, entrenched, common, substitutable, withdrawn, exposed. (157) Here, again, Nancy repeats the importance of how such multiplicities entangle and weave through the very possibility of a subject, of a closed hermeneutic circle. In this way, I am beginning to understand how the “chain” works and unworks the closed economy of the Same. And yet, paradoxically, the Same functions as war and Sarajevo became a proper name of humanism, of violence. Of importance is how the ethical traverses a political notion of ontology. In other words, it seems that the Event traverses, transforms the very possibility of existence, of also existing in an awful way. What I’d eventually like to do is work through Benjamin’s notion of the “Angel of History” as the idea of Event and against an “aesthetization of politics,” of the possibility of transformative critique at the level of singularities, that

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112 don’t offer the Subject a mode of rage without transformation in the service of a sovereign state (i.e. Nazi Germany, or the “good Americans” in service of that shit-head Bush), but rather how such a state might be deconstructed. Perhaps, the strategies of Laibach can be read as such interventions Nancy begins The Surprise of the Event, by explaining “what makes an event an event is not only that it happens, but that it surprises.” (159) This state reminds me of when Derrida spoke of the event as coming from above or behind, but never in front. While I have a slight understanding of this, I am not sure what it could mean other than the event is never is front of an intentional human subject, but rather interrupts the very constitution and substance that such a human-ism requires. In the passage below, Nancy speaks of the non-episodic modality of the event and how it is relates to the idea of becoming The event is not an episode; it is, if it is at all necessary to say that it is, that it be—that is, that there be something, something different than the indeterminacy (indifference) of Being and nothingnessThe event indicates what has to be thought at the very heart of becoming, pointing to it as something more deeply withdrawn and more decisive than the “passage-into” which it is ordinarily reduced. (162) Here Nancy explicates that the event is not simply at calculable repetition on an instant (of the Same.) Nor, for that matter, can it ‘fit’ in between the ontologically determined space between the binary of “Being and nothingness.” In this manner, an event cannot ‘be’ brought into a “passage” between things. Rather, at stake, is a becoming, something that repeats of the surprise of difference, and something untimely that does not offer a track of thought in which an event “passes through” but, instead, traverses the very ontology of such the closed space of a calculated thought. In this way, “Thinking the event in its essence as event surprises Hegelian thinking from the inside.”

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113 (164) In this way, it’s a becoming in a Deleuzean sense, in which, thought in a modality of traversal and transformative critique. This weaves into thinking the event without a genitive, without a possession, or a hierarchy from which things unfold, or, from which, charted passages emerge (a counter of which is a city of multiplicities, a Situationist drive.) As Nancy states, “the ‘as such’ of the event would be its Being. But this then would have to be the being-happening, or else the being-that-happens, rather than the Being of what happens—that is, of what is happening—or event the Being of the “that it happens.” (164) Here, the event ‘is’ being as a repetition of difference, in that there is no ontology ‘behind’ the event. In this, then, if I am getting it, is there very possibility of singularities as different from the Subject or Dasein of Being in that the being-event is necessary within and in excess of ontological difference. Inoperative Communities. With such critical modes of exposing the limit-cases as the examples of Heidegger and Levinas have shown of both ontology and the human community, and of offering a new mode of understanding an ethics without an ontology, we can now explore in some detail how Nancy begins to articulate a community not predicated on ontology, of a particular human and philosophical bias, but rather, now, of a community that could be thought in terms of difference. At stake a move from a static community of human ontology to something of a limit-case that could refigure a becoming-animal, a “co-extensive” singularity traversing the human. This becomes, in effect, a refiguring of a politics without ontology, an ethics no longer operating “in” the hermeneutic of political ontology, but rather a surface ethics of sorts. And ethics without ontology and humanisms, an ethics similar to a Deleuzean articulation of the surface.

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114 In the preface to the Inoperative Community rigorously examines the notion of “being in common” as a way of rethinking community, of a community without the ontological presuppositions inherent in a classical understanding of the political. How and why the tradition [Western] has folded and closed the thinking of being-in-common within the thinking of an essence of community is not something I seek to examine. But I start out from the idea that such a thinking—the thinking of community as essence—is in effect the closure of the political. Such a thinking constitutes closure because it assigns to community a common being, whereas community is a matter of something quite different, namely, of existence inasmuch as it is in common, but without letting itself be absorbed into a common substance. Being in common has nothing to do with communion, with fusion into a body, into a unique and ultimate identity that would no longer be exposed. Being in common means, to the contrary, no longer having, in any form, in any empirical or ideal place, such a substantial identity, and sharing this (narcissistic) “lack of identity.” (xxxviii) Nancy insists on a counter-intuitive understanding of the “in” of being in common. What seeks to open to thinking, is the “ex-posure” of thinking about community without “an essence” that, in essence, if you will, “is in effect the closure of the political.” As Nancy continues, “Exposition and sharing do not make up and essence. And (Western) philosophy’s political programs have come to a close.” (xxxviii) What becomes fascinating about Nancy’s refiguring of the political, of what the political might look like “outside” of the tradition, exposed the political to an operation or touching of singularities no longer bound by an idea of being. This is what I hope to show as an ethics, an ethical operation of singularities that differ drastically from understanding humanistic of the “individual.” Like Heidegger, Nancy understands the crucial importance of “finitude.” However, in Nancy’s deconstruction of the commonness of being, of the work of community, finitude itself becomes a more radical possibility of refiguring community. Finitude, or the infinite lack of infinite identity, if we can risk such a formulation, is what makes community. That is, community is made or is formed by the retreat or

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115 by the subtraction of something: this something, which would be the fulfilled infinite identity of community, is what I call its “work.” All our political programs imply this work: either as the product of the working community, or else the community itself as work. But in fact it is the work that community does not do and that it is not that forms community. In the work, the properly “common” character of community disappears, giving way to a unicity and a substantiality. (The work itself, in fact should not be understood primarily as the exteriority of a product, but as the interiority of the subject’s operation.) The community that becomes a single thing (body, mind, fatherland, Leader...) necessarily loses the in of being-in-common. Or, it loses the with or the together that defines it. It yields its being-together to a being of togetherness. (xxxix) In such manner, community exchanges the with of the being-with for a genitive, the mark of a transcendence that gathers and subjects all things under a common form, albeit God, Identity, subject, Fatherland. In contradistinction to the arresting moment of the genitive, Nancy argues that The truth of community...resides in the retreat of such a being. Community is made of what retreats from it...the retreat opens, and continues to open, this strange being-in-the-one-with-the-other to which we are exposed. (Nothing indicates more clearly what the logic of this being of togetherness can imply more than the role of Gemeinschaft, of community, in Nazi ideology.) (xxxix) Again, the critical operation at stake is that of transcendence. Transcendence is that which separates and clearly divides God from the human, the human from animal, etc. All such moves imply a hierarchy of being, which takes place outside of existing. A verticially that rips through the surface and divides and segregates living creatures giving some more being than others. Community for Nancy calls for something different than transcendence. [C]ommunity does not consist in the transcendence (nor the transcendental) of a being supposedly immanent to community. It consists on the contrary in the immanence of a “transcendence”—that of finite existence as such, which is to say, of its “exposition.” Exposition, precisely, is not a “being” that one can “sup-pose” (like a sub-stance) to be in community...[b]ut community cannot be presupposed. It is only exposed.”(xxxiv)

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116 In order to presuppose community would be to assign it an identity, an ontology before the fact. Community, a community without unity, can only be exposed. In this regard we have emergent the possibility of the ethical. Only without transcendence can a ethical emerge that would not be ontologically presupposed. The question will become of how to think the ethical without transcendence. In the ethical is the exposure to community, or the exposure that unworks the transcendence that seeks to reify community, how can one speak of such a thing without reinscribing it back into transcendence, the very being of community. Nancy critically and carefully takes this to task when speaking of the ultimate way in which modernity has sought to transform community, namely, by revolution. To think...this limit that exposition “is,” is necessarily to think the point or the limit at which the moment of revolution presents itself. The idea of revolution has perhaps still not been understood, inasmuch as it is the idea of a new foundation and reversal. But their reason lies elsewhere: it is the incessently present moment at which existence-in-common resists every transcendence that tries to absorb it, be it in an All or in a Individual (in a Subject in general.) This moment cannot be “founded,” and no foundation, therefore, can be “reversed” in it. This moment—when the in of the “incommon” erupts, resists, and disrupts the relations of need and force—annuls collective and communal hypostases; this violent and troubling moment resists murderous violence and the turmoil of fascination and identification: the intensity of the word “revolution” names it well, a word that, undoubtedly, has been bequeathed or delegated by us an ambiguous history, but whose meaning has perhaps still to be revolutionized. (xl) This brings us back the ideas that I opened with in the first chapter surrounded the left and right wing revolutions that Heidegger and Che either participated in or recuperated in the 20th Century. Important is how to think through, or to take Nancy’s call on how to revolutionaize the concept or ontology within the revolution itself—on the one hand, a radical thinking of singularity, and on the other hand, to disrupt those forms of humanist thinking that privilege the human over the animal. Such a traditional manner of changing the specific current political situations (however unjust) still re-volve around

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117 an ontological idea of the political. Only the inhabitants, human inhabitants, already interpellated as Subjects, individuals, etc. re-place in the Same old philosophical place. In other words, the City proper, its economy remains the same as long as it spins on its revolutionary axis. Following Nancy’s cue, the question becomes that of how to think community against itself as being in common. Critical to opening up such a possibility, must take into account the very notion of the human. For the human being, if we follow post-structural as well as Foucauldean critiques, is a particular construction who time has come. In the Inoperative Community Nancy pushes the concept and construction of a human community to ‘its’ limit-case. Yet it is precisely the immanence of man to man, or it is man, taken absolutely, considered as the immanent being par excellence, that constitutes the stumbling block to a thinking of community. A community presupposed as having to be one of human beings presupposes that it effect, or that it must effect, as such and integrally, its own essence, which is itself the accomplishment of the essence of humanness. (“What can be fashioned by man? Everything. Nature, human society, humanity,” wrote Herder. We are stubbornly bound to this regulative idea.”) Consequently, economic ties, technological operations, and political fusion (into a body or under a leader) represent or rather present, expose, and realize this essence necessarily in themselves. Essence is set to work in them; through them, it becomes their work. This is what we have called “totalitarianism,” but it might be better named “immanentism,” as long as we do not restrict the term to designating certain types of societies or regimes but rather see in it the general horizon of our time, encompassing both democracies and their fragile juridical parapets. (3) “Man” as either an immanent and transcendental concept, in light of Nancy’s discourse on community, is no longer able to regulate itself as the “center of the universe,” in this way, then, the Arcamedian axiomatic gives way to difference, opening up a becomings-animality a the site of singularity, thus setting into operation the deconstruction of community itself, of a human-ist city. As we shall see in the final

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118 chapter, there is no city proper, the city is only a limit-case we apply to the shocks and violences of the political encounter with the other in all it’s materiality and singularity.

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CHAPTER 5 SARAJEVO, OR THE PROPER NAME OF THE BALKANS For Scardanelli In this chapter, I will examine two films, Ulysses’ Gaze and Laibach: A film from Slovenia that address in different ways, the problem of the Balkans and/or the proper name of Sarajevo. Drawing off of Deleuze’s notion of cinema, and I would add performance art to this ‘equation,’ the question becomes do these mediums generate not only new concepts for philosophy, but also, and more crucially, philosophy’s deconstruction. How can such artistic performances produce a new politics? To put this in another way, again following the cues of Deleuze regarding cinema, my interest is to examine the generative possibilities of these films to open up a question of the new city, of a postmodern city, an emergent city within the philosophical that simultaneously exceeds it. Nancy’s articulations of the humanistic trappings of the city, as well as a thinking through singularity, offer a new way of conceiving of a city not grounded within any fundamental nor regional ontology. Rather, such singularities suggest the event of a city in excess of any ontological determination, or hierarchical transcendent that would interpellate a humanist subject and its Other. In addition, Laibach offers a performative ‘answer’ to Agamben’s insight that we are still living “under the sign of fascism and Nazism have not been overcome.” The sheer movement of this process involves not only a transformation of politics, but also a new mode of ethics. 119

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120 The Testimony of Laibach. One must speak the same language to the point of the worst misunderstanding and in view of the interruption of the we, in view of the most radical, war-like rupture, dissociative of the “we”—in the lie, in perjury, in deception, in false testimony, which is not, I will remind you, testimony that is false.--Demure, Jacques Derrida The Slovenian performance art group Laibach formed in former Yugoslavian around 1980 and would later join the artistic collective Neue Slovenische Kunst. (qualify) One can certainly see the influences of punk and industrial bands in England and the US during the late 1970’s with such groups a Joy Division. However, unlike many of their Western counterparts whose immediate appropriations of fascist symbols were clearly meant to shock bourgeois culture1, Laibach was working in a much different cultural climate and therefore their relation to totalitarian images proves to be much more complex. As Salvo iek asserts in The Metastases of Enjoyment, “In the process of the disintegration of Socialism in Slovenia, the post-punk group Laibach staged an aggressive inconsistent mixture of Stalinism, Nazism and Blot und Borden ideology. “ (72) Laibach incorporates both Soviet and Fascist imagery into their music, dress and performances. In fact, Laibach’s refusal to perform in their own native language, their insistence of only performing in German and English, deploys the ethics and tactics of a minor literature2. Even the name, Laibach, is the German word for the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana. 1 For example, Joy Division got its name for the notorious brothels that the SS set up for themselves in Concentration Camps. 2 See Deleuze and Guattari’s Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature.

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121 As the film, Laibach: A film from Slovenia points out, Slavoj iek quickly allies himself to Laibach. iek articulates, at some length, his position in The Metastases of Enjoyment: Six Essays on Women and Causality by explaining Laibach’s appropriation of Hitler and Stalin in the following way: The first reaction of enlightened Leftist critics was to conceive of Laibach as the ironic imitation of totalitarian rituals; however, their support of Laibach was always accompanied by an uneasy feeling: ‘What if they really mean it? What if they truly identify with the totalitarian ritual?’ –or (a more cunning version) a transferring of one’s doubt onto the other: ‘What if Laibach overestimate their public?’ What if the public take seriously what Laibach mockingly imitate, so that Laibach actually strengthen what they purport to undermine?’ This uneasy feeling is fed on the assumption that ironic distance is automatically a subversive attitude. What if, on the contrary, the dominant attitude of the contemporary ‘post-ideological’ universe is precisely a cynical distance towards public values? What is this distance, far from posing any threat to the system, designates the supreme form of conformism, since the normal functioning of the system requires cynical distance? In this case, the Laibach strategy appears in new a light: it ‘frustrates’ the system (the ruling ideology) precisely in so far as it is not its ironic imitation, but overidentification with it—by bringing to light the obscene superego underside of the system, overidentification suspends its efficiency (iek 72-3) iek’s own appropriation of Laibach offers a critique of liberalism and the epistemological assumptions regarding an Enlightenment subject that is free to make choices based on reason. While iek does rather convincingly expose the contradictions of a liberal response to Laibach, demonstrating the limited possibilities of merely an “uneasy” reading of Laibach as “ironic,” he appears to stop short of examining his own epistemological assumptions concerning a dialectical process of reading them psychoanalytically. To put this more precisely: iek shows that what is at stake with Laibach is not a simple “ironic imitation,” a mimesis of representation but rather a process of “overidentification.” It is this which makes Laibach a singular event and also its meaning undecidable. Within this promise of “overidentification” in which the “ruling ideology” is not exposed through Enlightenment critique where is this phrase

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122 coming from, if anywhere? If necessary, identify but rather its underside is exposed by staying within its very logic to the point of absurdity in to expose that the ‘emperor is naked.” Or, in our case, ‘the State is naked.’ The overidentification makes visible the underlying assumptions of the State—a kind of Diogenic exposure, what he calls during an interview in the film Laibach: A film from Slovenia, “exposing the hidden reverse” that everyone either supporting or against the power of the State must somehow already believe in to keep it functioning. Thus, for iek, the reformist logic of a liberal humanist position is by the very means of its enlightened critique, actually supports the State, supports itself. In such a manner, the liberal for iek must believe in the legitimacy in the State in order to exist itself as a ‘self.’ For iek what calls is almost a reversal of interpellation in that nobody believes the cop is anything more than just a man—at least momentarily. In The Sublime Object of Ideology iek examines Rysard Kapuscinski account of an event which was the catalyst of the "beginning of the end" for the Shah of Iran as the crowd simply dismisses the authority of the policeman (234) iek remarks, that it was not the fear of the cop, but rather that there is a "'third figure,' which intervenes between us ordinary citizens and the policeman is not directly fear but the big Other: we fear the policeman insofar as he is not just himself, a person like us, since his acts are the acts of power, that is to say, insofar as his is experienced as the stand-in for the big Other, for the social order "(234) What I find fascinating is iek's explanation for the collapse of that particular big Other. There's no predetermined teleological expla-nation for it, rather "unpredictability and "chance" were at work. This, to me, is a possible key to further developing a notion of performance, a politics of performance. iek:

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123 The feature common to all these moments of the big Other's collapse is their utter unpredictability: nothing really great happened, yet suddenly the spell was broken, "nothing was the same as before," reasons which a moment ago were perceived as reasons for (obeying the Power), now function as reasons against. (234) iek’s reading offers more than a liberalism that can only function within the interpellative structures of power itself. Again, for iek, Laibach exposes ‘the hidden reverse’, and the raw raison d’tre of such power becomes naked to the crowd, and the fog at least momentarily lifts. However, is overidentification the way out, is that the final solution to what Laibach is up to? In other words, while the critique of Enlightenment is convincing in this case, iek is still working within the very strictures of philosophy itself. This really is a classicism that can only ‘point to’ something else, while, at the Same time, stops and remains with the ‘house of being,’ albeit a bourgeoisie, collective, anarchist, etc., all such economy is made from the Same idealist material, as long as it is positioned from within metaphysics. Though granted, iek does, in fact, read the immanent critique of Laibach, but is there more to Laibach than just critique? What if the stakes of Laibach were not only overidentification, but also an indeterminabiltiy beyond liberalism’s ‘uneasiness’ and the logic of iek’s reversal? What is the axiomatic of Laibach’s reversal in iek’s reading? iek’s logic is the logic of the Same, of a repetition that stays within the philosophical economy of the city proper, which is counter to a more radical Nietzschean eternal return of difference. To make this more explicit, by analogy, iek reading would domesticate Laibach and bring them back into the classical conception of a city, of a humanist economics. Counter to this, Laibach, as will be shown, brings about a performative critique of critique, first by analogy in that their performance art has to do with a rethinking of the classical concept of the city, and second, that they are intervening directly in the state of

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124 the city as, for example, the call in 1980 for a general strike to “test” the limits of the state police. In spite of its good intent, the philosophical underpinnings remain intact in iek’s reading. But before further opening up this question of a philosophical conservatism (or, classicism) lying in iek’s reversals, let’s move onto an example of Laibach. iek’s reading attempts returns Laibach to the Same, to domesticate their performances into a hermeneutic or dialectical meaning. In this way, for within iek’s classicism, Ulysses returns home—this movement is the very logic of a repetition of the Same, of a classical philosophical conception that shares similar axiomatic with the liberalism of iek’s very critique. A classical repetition that must provide an answer to the question, ‘who or what is Laibach? Are they fascist?’ A hermeneutic nervousness demanding meaning, arresting and bringing all dissidents home to philosophy, to the city, and to classical ontology proper. In direct contrast, we have Ulysses’ Gaze, which, as we shall see later in this chapter, it is no coincidence that A does not return home; instead, the repetition of the lost films opens up something else, an “angel of history.” Returning to Laibach, while their emergence has many parallels with punk and industrial bands, a crucial aspect of their work involves the Situationist strategy of detournement3. From their faux protofascist garb, to their appropriations of Beatles and Stones songs, to their mid-nineties album, NATO, Laibach deploys the Situationist strategy of detournement to images, sounds and lyrics to bring about an immanent critique. In such a manner, parallels to the Situationists are evident 3 See Guy Debord’s The Derive and other Situationist Practices. Briefly stated, the practice of detournement involves appropriating images and sounds in order to subvert and change the original meaning. See Can Dialectics Break Brick? as a filmic example in which members of the Situationists detourned an old kung-fu movie and make it about class struggle.

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125 Two questions immediately come to mind: what is the relationship between detournement and mimesis (representation) And, does their strategy move beyond what iek refers to as the “hidden reverse”? Does Laibach merely expose the hidden logic of the State in order to expose the rawness and irrationality of the State’s power? Or, is there something more than this exposure? Is it possible to read Laibach against the economy of this reversal? Of any modality that not only exposes the logic of the State but also detournement’s possible indebtedness to a dialectical reversal that repeats the Same. As a counterpoint, Nancy’s “at each instant” moves the discoveries of detournement and frees them from the conceptual house arrest of dialectics, meaning, hermeneutics, etc. Nancy’s model is an example of what takes place when you pay attention to singularity rather than merely reversing and repeating; the question of observing singularity is what exposes the iterability within repetition, and it is this that moves the strategy of detournement on beyond mimesis, because it uncovers that which is not reflected, not simply repeatable without the very difference that makes singularity and iterability possible In Laibach: A Film from Slovenia, the question is posed response from liberal journalists and the Yugoslavian public at large, as Laibach conjures both fascist and Stalinist images, or at least bears ‘false’ witness to such images by their sheer performativity, they themselves become the sacrifice, the scapegoat? They become, according to the film’s narration, their own “jews” by sacrificing themselves to the crowds, who, believing Laibach to be fascist, attacks them. Laibach conjures totalitarian images, “false testimonies,” only to then invoke a totalitarian response, a “righteous” hysteria, that then blames Laibach for being fascist, when, in fact, they become, for iek, their own ‘jews.’ In other words, Laibach offer themselves as both the fascist and

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126 the Jew. The crowds, the media, become stirred by such phantasms, such fanatic images of the Europe of the Stalin and Hitler (not to mention the State and the very epistemology of the subject), that these crowds then blame Laibach for being fascist and simultaneously attack, rather fascistically, Laibach themselves. In this manner, as iek as points out, Laibach themselves become their own ‘Jews.’ This position does open up a perverse logic of repeating of a fascist logic to the point of an absurdity setting underway a performativity through their performance art, revealing both the fascist and the Jew simultaneously thereby unveiling a certain paradox in the political response of the crowd, which takes place at the limit of representation (and it is also precisely this exposure which is revealed via A.’s journey which is not a return of the same, but a movement that invokes and allows to come back the narratives of the past, thereby allowing A to bear witness in the singular instance of a family history that does not represent but analogically signals the history of the Balkans through its singularity, and it’s this which iek’s Hegelianism would not be able to read. iek reads this “jew” as a critique of the State itself. However, and crucially, the problem with iek’s important reading lies in a solving Laibach whose own performative strategies in that we now how an answer to Laibach, to what they are doing. In this way, iek ‘solves’ the indeterminacy of Laibach by bringing them ‘home,’ by returning them to a classical economy of the Same, of a repetition that repeats, it almost predicts the meaning of Laibach once and for all before they began; Oedipus’ fate is sealed the minute he is born—a hermeneutic reading and domestication of Laibach. At stake is that iek actually domesticates Laibach by structuralizing them placing them structurally within the schemata of his own logic. He inadvertently domestics domesticates Laibach by

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127 bringing them home; this is similar to Ulysses coming home in Odyssey, of going full circle, of repeating the logic of the Same. Returning them from a radical repetition of difference (Derrida, Deleuze, Nancy) to a repetition of the Same—by determining them as ‘Jew,’ he brings them back to a classicism, to a classical economy, to the same city, to philosopher proper. In this modality, Ulysses himself comes home, a classical return, and a classical repetition, a classical meaning. This classical economy of Ulysses’’ return will also be challenged in the film Ulysses’’ Gaze This Same hermeneutic gives Laibach meaning. Reading then becomes absolute, striated. Is there another way of reading Laibach? What if it is not a sequential moment, going around in prefabricated philosophical circles and repetitions, is not a sequential movement within this classical time of Laibach-the-fascist, then, next, Laibach-the-Jew? Is it possible to read the impossibility of a simultaneity that brings together the fascist and jew at one instant? Not an instant that would move within the very registers of classical time but instead as an ‘instant’ as Nancy expresses in Being Singular Plural? Such a deconstructive reading as Nancy’s configuration radicalizes a ‘community without unity,’ a ‘co-existence’ emergent as a repetition reiteration of difference and the iterability that difference makes possible. In this manner, the circle (of meaning) begins to fail, a ventilating sky emerges, meaning slips away from itself, the economy of the human gives way to a repetition “at each instant,” an intensity exceeding the being-home, the being-with. The very “with” of the “being-with” becomes outcast, thrown from its own ossification and nostalgia, from its contract with “man’ proper. The “with” traverses man, exceeds him before, after, within and in excess of his meanings, states, striated spaces

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128 and rather opens up assemblages into becomings, the ‘cat’ mockingly takes Nancy’s thoughts with him. This “each instant” takes our city, our philosophy/politics, opening the repetition of difference, the radicality of a Nietzschean ‘eternal’ return, the flickering of difference and inhuman cities, the filmic itself no longer containing context, but emerging as an intervention of a pure repetition of difference, not the technology of man or of man’s meaning and interpretations ad nausea, but instead, an instant as Nancy expresses in Being Singular Plural. Such a configuration radicalizes “a community without unity”, or a “co-existence” emergent as a repetition of difference. The circle, giving meaning, giving it to Laibach, then, begins to fail, meaning slips away from itself, the ‘economy and invention of the human gives way to a repetition ‘at each instant’, an intensity in excess of the Heimlich, the program. The very “with” of the “being-with”, being becomes an outcast, thrown from its very nostalgia, from its contract with “man” proper. This “with” traverses man, transforms the man and assemblages into becomings, the “cat” mockingly takes our thoughts with it. This “at each instant” takes our city, our philosophic-politics, opening up a repetition of difference, the radicality of a Nietzschean “eternal return,” the flickering of difference and inhuman cities. This non-human event exceeds within the pro-grammed meaning, a humanist ‘laugh tract’, traversing the aporia of a simultaneity of the fascist/Jew, the dialectical human interpretation of iek’s necessity to bring Laibach back home to meaning, to decide for us, for Laibach, for politics, the classical meaning of performance and asks us to again take refuge in the humanist city, to come back to the classical Sarajevo, to the violence of the market-place. Here, I suppose, Laibach’s undecidability is it their undecidability or rather is it the undecidability that is at the

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129 heart of their performance is not the nervous tick of liberalism or of a hermeneutic. Rather, following Deleuze and Guattari’s Minor Literature we can begin to see an all-together different mode of reading Laibach. To grasp this minor movement, such assemblages, it becomes crucial to examine, by means of the example, the testimony of Laibach. Laibach works on the surface; there is no ‘meaning’ behind or beneath them, only the surface iterability. In this way, then, we can begin to see them not offering ‘freedom’ which has in advance numerous presuppositions, such as the subject, metaphysics, etc, but rather Laibach, moving on the surface, offers instead what Deleuze and Guattari call an “escape.” Critical, then, to their performance is an intensity, a velocity of performativity, of a performativity that does not return home to its constative. Laibach and the Situationists—Staging Mimesis. Vital to Laibach is their use of the Situationist practice of detournement. While many of their Western European (post) punk counterparts such as the Sex Pistols deploy Situationist techniques in order to ‘swindle’ the public and makes millions in the process, Laibach’s performances, detournements, can be seen as working within the utopian social projects of Yugoslavia (quote end of film.) In other words, Laibach’s music, performances and collaboration with NSK are not operating within a cynical Western and ultimately Cartesian individualism, but rather their hope offers the possibility of a transformation and critique of the very presuppositions of such individualism. Though I should pause at this moment to qualify their remarks by pointing out that its not a matter of finding out Laibach’s true meaning, or intent, which, of course, must move within the

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130 striated metaphysical assumptions of a subject already in play. Instead it becomes necessary to read Laibach’s strategies and what possible insights such things might conjure as a performative critique. Like Guy Debord himself, Laibach’s tactics involve appropriation, and in their case specifically, of both Stalinist and Fascist images in their art, dress and music to invoke powerful and haunting images to a war torn Yugoslavia. As I will argue, in the very production of their performance is a glimmer of a Benjamin’s “angel of history,” what Benjamin refers to as “material historiography” as opposed to traditional “historicism,” a transformative critique of the very assumptions inherent within a humanist configuration. In Laibach: a film from Slovenia, iek reminds the viewer that what Laibach summons is not fascism but rather a fantastic image of fascism, an operatic moment based more on an invented perfect past. False testimonies and memories emerge into the present and the crowds and media as a counterintuitive intervention against the conformity and self-righteousness mechanism that assumes to understand fascism as an operatic event. iek goes on to remind that reader of the very banality of fascism, the day to day running of a fascist country, the bizarre and lethal banality of an everyday Hitler. In this regard, we can also see that Laibach produces a false memory of fascism, almost a comical fascism of Hitler and Stalin. As a liberalism moves to condemn Laibach, simultaneously feeling a self-satisfaction, Laibach’s detractors are, in effect, allow the very subtly a cynical everyday totalitarian possibility to occur. If we had once again to conceive of the fortunes of humanity in terms of class, then today we would have to say that there are no longer social classes, but just a single planetary bourgeoisie, in which all the old social classes are dissolved: The petty bourgeoisie has inherited the world and is the form in which humanity has survived nihilism. But this is also exactly what fascism and Nazism understood, and to have clearly seen the irrevocable decline of the old social subjects constitutes their

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131 insuperable cachet of modernity. (From a strictly political point of view fascism and Nazism have not been overcome, and we still live under their sign. (63) What becomes crucial then is how to read Laibach’s detournement as more than just an immanent critique contained within a classical economy and thereby trapped at the market place, and produce a critique that could only stop the metaphors of a capitalist and/or bureaucratic city from its lines and flows within a striated space of hysterical commerce. How can Laibach’s performance as a critique move beyond the Situationist dialectics, of a certain mimetic logic that stops or disrupts momentarily before being once again subsumed into the flows of capital (the limit case for Situationists) and not also fall into a mimetic gesture? Laibach: Towards a Minor Literature. Perhaps Oedipus had one eye too many. --Friedrich Hlderlin Another crucial modality to Laibach’s strategy, one that begins to move past appropriation, and of classical traps of ‘immanent critique,’ which involves, or at least assumes a ‘subject’ as a foundational position, is how they can be read in terms of Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of a Minor Literature. Like Kafka, Laibach writes and performance languages other than their own. Rather than produce work in their native tongue, they only perform in German and English. German while complimenting their ‘supposed’ totalitarian garb, also invokes powerful memories of the German occupation of Yugoslavia, in which the scars of collaboration, mass deaths and other atrocities of Fascism still ring through the collective memories of (former) Yugoslavians. Germany provokes powerful memories of horrible time, disaster and catastrophe, while English

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132 invokes the domination of US foreign policy since WWII. And, now, the US's more specifically insidious and “cynical” attempts at imperial by introducing ‘free market’ capitalism into this once utopian socialist project. In fact, part of the condition of US aid was to insist upon the breakup of Yugoslavia. In this way, only by the breaking up into Serbia, Croatia, etc., was there any hope of necessary aid. Within such historical contexts we can begin to read how Laibach’s strategies, while often deploying Situationist notions of detournement, also, and more importantly, by means of a Minor Literature, challenge not only State power and various forms of foreign interventions, but also the very logic of the subject itself upon which such nationalisms, humanisms, must exist. In other words, Laibach’s “deterritorialization” of English and German does more than simply subvert the dominate powers, more than just exposing “the hidden reverse” of the irrational ‘nakedness’ of power. Rather, Laibach takes things a step further by challenging the epistemology of any power that inherits the Cartesian subject, this human subject. In Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, Deleuze and Guattari speak of three aspects of a minor literature. The first element involves how “Prague German is a deterriortialized language, appropriate for strange and minor uses ([which] can be compared in another context to what blacks in America today are able to do with the English language.) (17)” In this manner, on the one hand, Kafka, the Prague Jew writing in German, possesses “the feeling of an irreducible distance from [his] primitive Czech territoriality.” (16) On the other hand, “writing in German is the deterritorialization of the German population itself ...[and that]... is all the more true for the Jews who are simultaneously a part of this minority and excluded from it...”(16-7) Thus, in this way,

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133 Kafka from the minute he writes deterriorializes and is deterriortialized. In a similar light, we can begin to understand how Laibach’s use of German and English is also an attempt at deterritorialization. A response not only to a linguistic violence from the outside, but also, as it effects a challenge to their own native and national territory. Another characteristic “of minor literatures is that everything is political.” (17) \The insight here is to begin to understand how Kafka is political, counter-intuitive to dominate interpretations that deem him as “existential,” as an alienated individual trapped in an impossibly unjust, non-transformational world or nightmare. In this sense, Kafka is trapped, an Oedipus unable to escape his fate. In contrast, Deleuze and Guattari assert the notion of minor literatures provides a challenge to major literatures in which “individual concerns joins with other in less individual concerns.” (17). For them, a Oedipality haunts major literatures. As “individual concerns” merge with other ‘individual concerns’ the “social milieu [serves] as a mere environment or background; this is so much the case that none of these Oedipal intrigues are specifically indispensable or absolutely necessary but all become as one in a large space. “(17) In the space of Oedipus, one could say, political transformation is frozen; the space is abstract. The individual is riddled with guilt. Everything becomes the burden of the individual and the conflict of father and son are in the fore. Again, and in contrast, “[w]hen Kafka indicates that one of the goals of a minor literature is the “purification of the conflict that opposes father and son and the possibility of discussing that conflict,” it isn’t a question of an Oedipal phantasm but of a political program.” (17) One could go so far as to suggest that this politics does not assume a foundational role of the subject, of individuals, of individuals endlessly awaiting arrest while in the throws of guilt. Seeking to find freedom

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134 and such transcendentals almost as if they were vertical vectors holding “striated space” up as a pole supports a tent, and for us, a counterpoint, something inhuman. The final component “of a minor literature is that in it everything takes on a collective value.” (17) It is no longer the politics or the apolitical character of isolated, guilt-ridden individuals in a somewhat futile search from freedom from the masters and fathers. [B]ecause talent isn’t abundant in a minor literature, there are no possibilities for an individuated enunciation that would belong to this or that “master” and that could be separated from a collective enunciation. Indeed, scarcity of talent is in fact beneficial and allows the conception of something other than a literature of masters; what each author says individually already constitutes a common action, and what he or she does is necessary political, even if others aren’t in agreement...and...if the writer is in the margins or completely outside his or her fragile community, this situation allows the writer all the more the possibility to express another possible community and to forge the means for another consciousness and another sensibility; just as the do of “Investigations” call out in his solitude to another science (17) Crucial to Deluze and Guattari insights is not only to grasp Kafka as political, but that they’re reading opens of a new notion of the political itself, of a new politics without form which responds to singularity as Nancy has pointed out, exceeding the classical traps and economies. It’s no longer the classical politics of cities, territories and individuals, but rather that of exiles and Kafka’s animals, of a profound anti-humanism, which we have seen already in Levinas, who nonetheless cannot get beyond a transcendent ambiguity as to the “wholly other” in terms of God and the animal, to a more radical move beyond humanism with Deleuze and Guattari. Out of the Oedipality of the municipality, neither Kafka nor his animals rack themselves with guilt over their exile, nor, for that matter, tear out their eyes. Kafka as a minor literature transforms the very notion of a collectivity. No longer can it be conceived as a group of individuals together, what Maurice Marleau-Ponty might call intersubjectivity. Instead, such

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135 transcendental axioms that hold together both the State and its oppositions collapse as viable categories sinking such nihilistic traps as ‘individual’ freedom as a generative principle of the Cartesian or bourgeois subject. What emerges is an affirmation of a different order, offering escapes of the human, abstract cities and spaces. Such an affirmation transforms literature from being eloquent and passive traps. A minor literature is a new politics as [T]he literary machine thus becomes the relay for a revolutionary machine-to-come, not at all for ideological reason but because the literary machine alone is determined to fill the conditions of a collective enunciation that is lacking elsewhere in the milieu.” (18) As a relay, not only literature but also the arts themselves, such as Laibach’s performances, open up a radical and inhuman politics. Art becomes political as a transformation and vessel for a revolutionary machine-to-come. Even the notion of revolutionary must also be thought through such “assemblages” and “relays” to avoid the dialectical traps and pitfalls of becoming another State, or a state of being. The affirmation of art deterriorializes the politics of striated space. Such affirmation of a “revolution-to-come” should be seen within the context of what Deleuze, in The Logic of Sense refers to as the “powers of the false that rise to the surface.” What we have, in effect, is a “perverse” logic that unworks the perversion that endlessly digresses in an Oedipal or Platonic economy. Absolutely vital to such an affirmation is a dissolving of man, of humanity. Deleuze and Guattari read Kafka’s “Investigations of a Dog” as lacking a subject. This is not a mere anthropomorphism, of a human-like dog. This dog is not a subject nor subjected to man: In “The Investigations of a Dog,” the expression of the solitary researcher tend toward the assemblage (agencement) of a collective enunciation of the canine species even if this collectivity is no longer or not yet given. There isn’t a subject; there are only collective assemblages of enunciation, and literature expresses these

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136 acts insofar as they’re not imposed from without and insofar as they exist only as diabolical powers to come or revolutionary forces to be constructed. (18) What we have in effect are affirmations as “collective assemblages of enunciation” in which the subject is no longer posited as a foundational. Crucial in such an insight lies precisely in that the possibilities, limits and failures of the very epistemology of the subject are, for Deleuze and Guattari, not viable. Such an epistemological shock to the entire project of philosophy, of a subject of philosophy, opens up lines of “escape” from the reactive positions that such a bourgeois subject assumes—reacting against “the father,” work, society, other subjects, etc. In addition, an epistemology of assemblages transforms the very notion of the political itself. The “revolutionary forces to be constructed” are not required to inherit the economic assumptions, sins, debt and guilt of a subject in society. No longer is collectively bound to an “inner subjectivity” that attempts to start from the foundation of subjects, of individuals. The logic of a minor literature ‘opposes’ the ontology of a subject, traverses the possibility of subjectivity at the moment of its constitution. Again, arise the “powers of the false,” a surface of velocities and intensities—a profound anti-Platonism, anti-philosophy and anti-ontology (in the classical sense.) The idea of the political itself shifts and becomes a type of force, no longer subscribing to a metaphysics, but rather offers a new collectivity of affirmations. This “revolutionary force” is what Deleuze refers to as a “perversion” in The Logic of Sense. Such a collectivity cuts through the hierarchy of humans and animals, individuals and States. A minor literature affirms a difference at the moment that the reactive force of a subject would otherwise ‘be’ constructed. This affirmation interrupts from within and exceeds the negative of an ontological logic. Immediately at stake in this Nietzschean becoming is a counter-collectivity to a traditional collectivity of

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137 intersubjectivity or of the abstract idea of a “people” or “mass.” Without condition, an affirmation affirms against the reactive and interpellating forces of the State. In such a way, a minor literature is always already political as ‘its’ political is always already epistemological. In even more so, the both the political and the epistemological are no longer bound to a branch of philosophy (ontology) just as Kafka is no longer bound to live as his father did, as his father demands. Example One: Art Demands Fanaticism. Neither particular nor universal, the example is a singular object that presents itself as such, that shows its singularity. .Hence the proper place of the example is always beside itself, in the empty space which its undefinable and unforgettable life unfolds...Exemplary is not what is defined by any property, except by being-called...Being-called—the property that establishes all possible belongings (being-called-Italian, -dog, -Communist)—is also what can bring them back radically into question. It is the Most Common that cuts off any real community...These pure singularities communicate only the empty space of the example, without being tied by any common property, by any identity. --Giorgio Agamben, The Coming Community In Laibach: a film from Slovenia, we see a clip from a televised interview that takes place during the early 1980’s. The clearly unsettled, journalist interrogates Laibach on their disturbing dress and music. Throughout the course of the interview Laibach remains “in character,” never once slipping to an outside to clarify whether or not they are fascist. Their encounter, their challenge is precisely against that of a good liberal attempting to warn the public of an emerging fascism. What the liberal misses in the nuances of fascism itself, believing in the very humanist logic of the State, of the danger of a future fascist State. Laibach’s staging, the theatrics of their presence during the interview, rings almost of a Benjamin in terms of a complication of an understanding historicity itself. Laibach never makes a distinction between being in character and out of character, so to speak. In

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138 this manner, the performance itself is never distinct from a non-performance, a wink to those who presume to know. The staging of this, similar to the ethics of the drive, extend the boundaries of art and ‘its’ assigned space, that of the gallery. Here the “politics of art” becomes a type of praxis rather than the mere idea of praxis. Once a performance such as Laibach’s interview is staged, fixing a meaning becomes almost impossible as what is produced is an ‘event.’ Event becomes an interruption and intervention. The journalist assumes Laibach to “be” fascist because of their dress and fails to re-cognize the sheer performativity of them “never leaving the stage.” The space of the stage itself no longer holds in a classical sense of subjects moving within it or of its classical time. Laibach does not assume an Archimedean point from which to step back and reassure the journalist, the media or even the State. There’s no father to explain the ‘truth’ behind Laibach. And, as the film points out, the State was powerless to do anything to them since they quoted Tito in their speeches. They seemingly became more nationalistic than the nationalists themselves. Such as performance as in their interview conjures false images and testimony of fascism and totalitarianism. What also needs to be seen here is an epistemological and performative interruption of systemic and ideological assumptions within notions of critique itself. In other words, Laibach, similar to the Situationists and to a Diogenic tradition, deploy performance itself as something ‘beyond’ critique. No doubt, there are many dangers to such a positioning, but nonetheless and crucially, they are engaged at the level and logic (a counter-logic to metaphysics) to transformation itself, rather than a distant and reassuring glance by means of critique. By means of analogy one could look at Hardt and Negri’s Empire as an intervention offering possible counter-formations to the actual and contemporary

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139 formations of capital itself. Rather than assume capital to still is within a 19th Century epistemology of classical concepts regarding the subject, dialectics, etc. Thus, for Laibach, performance itself becomes event as the possibility of transformation, of transformative critique. It intercedes and disrupts 'meaning’ and context because such classical assumptions fail as the ‘powers of the false’ rise to the surface, traversing the promise of Platonic birds and ‘lead sandals.’ One could almost remark that there’s an infrangible affection in such performance that implodes and explodes metaphysical spaces, offering instead assemblages and becomings. So as Laibach stays within their character, never pausing to wink at the camera to let us know they’re only kidding. What calls, what demands, is a challenge to the whole nature of performance as an epistemology. In fact, their refusal to respond and comfort the journalist resonates with Bartleby “preferring not to.” What we have here is a performative epistemology countering the very ‘piety of the question’ (See Derrida, Of Spirit) and the question’s own ideological and epistemological assumptions. The cop’s ‘Hey you?’ exposes the otherwise than innocent logic of the hermeneuticist’s demand, and leaves the strictures of abstract and metaphysical freedoms for the performative “escapes.” Conjuring not an orthodox Benjamin, but rather, a more vital Benjamin ghost that still resists and refuses to be tamed and domesticated by the same type of institution that left him for dead. Instead the rigorous demands of an intervention of the constitution of an ‘empty historical time’ (the time of liberalism) by means of invoking ‘false testimonies’ and ‘ pseudo-memories’ of a hypocritical or self-satisfied liberalism. To put this another way, Laibach deflects the framing of the question by means of performance—a performative strategy and epistemology against the epistemology of

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140 the Enlightenment. Against a liberal humanism which only critiques the content and not the very frame or underlying assumptions of the ideology. In effect, Laibach’s strategy during this interview really is a type of “perverse” Benjamin that assembles the event of performance, memory, technics and history around the haunting trauma of totalitarianism. Such “perversion” lies in the coupling of Deleuze and Benjamin, of taking the history as an event allowing for a transformation of thinking, while at the same time not falling into the traps of following a Benjamin orthodoxy, the usurpation by institutions that would attempt to reduce him to a method, and that ironically, would force Benjamin’s radical conception of history to repeat “at each time” as the Same. Instead, with Deleuze’s epistemological explosions to the subject comes Benjamin’s “angel” as a repetition that repeats “each time” differently. In this way, such staging, by means of the stage of Laibach staging themselves, they are able to produce themselves as a minor literature. In fact, calling themselves Laibach as the 4th Germanic naming of Ljubljana, is precisely the strategy of a minor literature offering an assemblage with Benjamin’s warning of fascism by repeating “politics of art” differently. Ljubljana-as-Laibach becomes a counter-signature of a new city ‘to-come,’ a counter-Sarajevo, a new Europe. Not only does it counter to the “aestheticization of politics” become vital, but also the necessity of repeating the ethics of Benjamin’s “politics of art” in such a manner as to repeat it differently “at each instant.” One could say that Laibach’s logic is precisely that of an “eternal return” of diffrance itself. Counter-distinct to an invocation of mimesis whose logic falls into a “history of empty historical time” in which the past is posited as an exact anterior origin that repeats itself as present, transcendence proper—e.g. the Nazi infatuation of themselves as the heirs to Ancient Greece and Rome. For example, Hitler

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141 thought of Germany as collage of Athens, Sparta and Rome. By means of performance, emerges a performativity that calls into question the ‘piety of the question’ and the foundations of a humanism that thinks ahistorically. Example Two: “to-come” We shall defend our island, whatever the cost might be. We shall never surrender. --Laibach, Opus Dei Towards the closing of Laibach: a film from Slovenia a member of Laibach addresses the collapse of Yugoslavia and goes on to offer how the notion of collectivity in the East and individualism in the West differ. Laibach’s strategy is to set up Yugoslavia as a Modernist art project of utopia against the cynicism of the West’s victory. Typical of Laibach, they seemingly tease the idea “asthetizing politics” by claiming Yugoslavia as an art project—such statements, of course, conjure ideas of the National Socialists. It is precisely uttering such a statement in the Heimlich, so to speak, that the very logic of a minor literature rises to the surface. By invoking Modernism Laibach tenaciously pivots on the Modernist notions of experimentation (Constructivists) and the possibility of a transformation to a political utopia. In this sense, it is counter to the glib notions of postmodernity as understood as mere word games, as missing the transformative critique of a new politics and ethics. One need only be reminded of the facile charges of Nietzsche being a nihilist and, completely missing the fact that as he points out, that metaphysics itself is the inner logic of nihilism par excellence. But what would it mean to bring Modernism into the present? It is simply an nostalgic gesture? This is truly a moment when Laibach sparkles. What they bring to the fore is a ghost of Benjamin within the Modernist possibility of political transformation. And yet, it is not a literal repetition of Benjamin, of ironically turning

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142 him into a method of sorts for the present and at the same time, assigning him back to “empty historical time,” a mimetic logic. Instead, the trace of Benjamin emerges as a repetition, as an intervention as a minor literature) from within the seeming “aestheticization of art”—this is the statement of Laibach. This politicalization of art repeats different at ‘each instant’ as a ‘minor art’ signaling a transformation of a new city “to-come.” It is worth noting that Laibach: A film from Slovenia was made in the midst of the Balkan War, and that the film itself offers a type of testimony or bearing witness to the events of Yugoslavia. In Homo Sacer, Agamben speaks of the parallels and diversions of the camps in Nazi Germany and the former republics of Yugoslavia: the camps have, in a certain sense, reappeared in an even more extreme form [than in Nazi Germany] in the territories of the former Yugoslavia. What is happening there is by no means, as interested observers have been quite to declare, a redefinition of the old political system according to new ethnic and territorial arrangements, which is to say, a simple repetition of processes that led to the constitution of the European nation-states. At issue in the former Yugoslavia is, rather, an incurable rupture of the old nomos and a dislocation of populations and human lives along entirely new lines of flight. If the Nazis never thought of effecting the Final Solution by making Jewish women pregnant, it is because the principle of birth that assured the inscription of life in the order of the nation-state was still—if in a profoundly transformed sense—in operation. This principle has now entered into a process of decay and dislocation. It is becoming increasingly impossible for it to function, and we must expect not only new camps but also always new and more lunatic regulative definitions of the inscription of life in the city. The camp, which is now securely lodged within the city’s interior, is the new biopolitical nomos of the planet. (176) Also worth suggesting, is the “state of emergency” under which Laibach, and their counter-part Neue Slovenische Kunst (NSK) offer a counter-signature by means of performance that might offer, and perhaps even open, a chance event that would expose the camp-logic of the city as an ontological interpellation producing victims and “targets.” In this regard, I believe, Laibach has many critical elements that would

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143 parallel Benjamin’s own interests in the city and how, to put this perversely, “only art can save us now.” Also of note, is how Benjamin in many respects turned his back his own German contemporairs and turned the experimentation of the Surrealists and other political avant-gardes. I would like to take a moment at this junction to further explore and lay out Benjamin’s own reflections on the city and “material historiography” to bring to light, as it were, how the ‘angel of history’ might be conceived within the fabric of this project. Ulysses’ Difference. The final case study involves the film Ulysses’ Gaze. Tho Angelopoulos film, Ulysses’ Gaze, is the journey of A. from Greece to Sarajevo during the Balkan War. This version of Ulysses’ journey clearly marks a different approach or departure from both Homer and Joyce. With Homer, the classical per excellence, Ulysses eventual return home to Greece after the Trojan War and comes full circle coming home. This circle, a hermeneutic circle, produces its meaning once Ulysses returns to his Same house. With James Joyce’s brilliant Modernist interpretation, the classical itself is challenged by the quotidian Bloom emerging as the unlikely hero. With Joyce, time itself collapses and is compressed into a day. At the risk of borrowing from an overused term and haplessly falling into an epochal modality, Ulysses’ Gaze can a seen as postmodern journey. Crucial, which will become evident in the following section, is that A, our post-modern Ulysses, does not return home nor is he coming home from a war but rather entering directly into its center. The sheer movement of A’s travels, of his bearing witness to the violence of Sarajevo in search of three lost films, signals not only the ethics of bearing witness, but also an epistemological shift or rupture into the possibility of constructing any hermeneutic meaning. At stake: a repetition of difference, of rethinking and figuring

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144 the city, the proper name of Sarajevo in a manner that bears witness to the event, but which halts over representation, which in being mimetically truthful would be, itself, a reduplication of the violence it seeks to expose. In this postmodern version of Ulysses, A. does not return home, come full circle. Instead, his journey ends in the midst of Sarajevo, bearing witness to the singular event of the lost films. A., a filmmaker in his own right, journeys through the Balkans in search of the three lost films of Yannakis and Miltos Manakis,. Significant is that these films bear witness to the first instants of film in the Balkans. They are, in effect, the first moving gaze, the technological documentation, a first memory withdrawn from being developed, marking both the origin and disappearance of a new modality of memory, of a particular technics, a making appear, that merges with the new technology of film. In this way, the technics of such a singularity is forever marked by the event of film. At the origin of the new technology, a singular bearing witness of a people and nation, is its very withdrawal. A. goes in such of these lost films to witness what the film makers witnessed, to see the captured memory of this first event--the first filmic moment of the Balkans just five years after Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams is published. A. searches for a meaning, for a concealed memory withdrawn from the conscious nation. A.’s obsession takes him into the heart of Sarajevo, a city on the verge of total destruction. The question of the lost films, a history or origin of the Balkans, which, as we recall, Laibach considers to be a work of Modernist art created by colonialism set up after WWI and ending with the Western inspired breakup of Yugoslavia. It is a crucial strategy that Laibach again turns mimesis on its head by doubling the gesture of an “aestheticization of politics” as performative mode of opening up new lines of flight for a

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145 different repetition of a “politics of art.” In this sense, they are reinscribing a type of “materialist historiography” to counter the “historicism” of received and categorized memory as a truth from a now dead past. As Benjamin exclaims, A historical materialist cannot do without the notion of a present which is not a transition, but in which time stands still and has come to a stop. For this notion of defines the present in which he himself is writing history. Historicism gives the “eternal” image of the past; historical materialism supplies a unique experience with the past. The historical materialist leaves it to others to be drained by the whore called “Once upon a time” in historicism’s bordello. He remains in control of his powers, man enough to blast open the continuum of history. (262) Laibach’s interventions ex-pose us to a productive memory of a “materiality” that seeks to challenge the Western liberal domestication of a utopia “to come.” By means of generating false witness and phantom images totalitarian Europe that whose only tangibility to the public is by means of the spectacle, Laibach become a type of trickster that seeks to generate the possibility of a way out, or line of flight from totalitarianism, by struggling against its manifestations in the present. In this sense, their materiality exceeds a synchronic time that is stuck repeating itself as the Same, and instead offer a diachronic traversal, not as a teleological trajectory, but instead as a way of signaling as intervention into the continuity of “empty time.” Now, Ulysses’ Gaze, in this way, A. appears to be looking to an origin before Yugoslavia and its violent breakup and war that he now finds himself in the midst of. We witness A. in his ethical and singular attempt to bare witness to a counter-history, a counter-time to the homogenous time of the Yugoslavian State. At first glance, such a hope would seem to recreate the same mimetic gesture or search for lost origins that haunted the modernist attempt to create something new by breaking away from the old. One need only look at National Socialism to see such a mimetology at work by means of inventing Greece as ancient in order to create a new Germany. Such a move, appearing to offer the history of an origin, does nothing

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146 more than signal a moment of transcendence, a history of “empty time” that must produce a fictive past “as if” it had occurred in order to constitute, make manifest, the present. What A. witnesses is not the origin, a captured memory that could be transported to the present, but instead a flickering. We see no content of the film, we are not able to see the content if such a thing does in fact exist. The origin, the meaning of the film, the content, does not unveil itself as the long journey of a hermeneutic travel, but instead, defers the very origin through the interruption and merging of a flicker, a technics of repetition itself. The repetition signals an event that repeats differently at each instant. This difference opens up the possibility of an ethical bearing witness as the transformation of the political. At stake is a new political, no longer signaling the marriage of philosophy and the city. In other words, the flickering ex-poses the mimetic search for origins, the classical and humanist violence of Sarajevo itself. The singularity of A. opens onto us a Sarajevo other than the Sarajevo of the city proper, of what Nancy calls “targets.” This city, a city “to-come” counters the hierarchy and transcendence of a humanist logic. Such a transformation could only occur in the midst of A.’s singular witnessing of the flickering in the historical moment of humanistic violence of Sarajevo. Example Three: Flickering and Bearing Witness Rather than looking into a particular historical event, what we witness A. witnessing is the event of history as otherwise, a repetition that does not repeat the same thing, but instead exposes a difference itself. The emergence of difference comes not outside the circle, of a classical time, it instead exceeds from within the classical itself to suspend or infinitely postpone the return home. We are left at the very moment of transformation, of bearing witness. An ethical transformation of the political itself, of a new inhuman city, a Sarajevo counter to classical time, repetition, violence and “targets.”

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147 These three lost films do not reveal a contained document, the film does not represent but instead, ex-poses A’s gaze at the blank flickering. Rather than representing a history contained within a past, in which a hermeneutic exegesis would uncover the films’ secret meanings, we are faced within the very violence and proper name of Sarajevo, the ex-position, a repetition of difference itself that opens up the “angel of history.” History is not an object in the past to be recognized, rather it is the very possibility of a transformation of the present. A. does not return home, but moves straight into the heart of the violence, the outcome of a particular history whose origin appears, at one level, to be tied the current war. The circle and its classical time whether several years or a day, gives way to the “extraordinary arts of surfaces,” of flickering. If we take the call of Nancy, and understand “Sarajevo as our Auschwitz,” we see the urgent need of a refiguring of the political itself, of the classical conception of the city proper. A. witnesses in the flickering, difference itself, a repetition that repeats differently. This requires a politics other than a classical city or history that could contain events with philosophy proper. What, thus happens is a temporal shift in the flicker of time, the emergence of an ethics beyond the Morality of good and evil, a pure ex-position of a politics “to-come.” We are asked to bear witness to the singularity of A.’s gaze, which is an ethics of bearing witness. Take, for example, the scene in Sarajevo in which the fog emerges. A becomes separated from his Bosnian friends, who are “escorted” of camera and disappear into the fog—all we hear are the shots, shouts and screams of the victims being murdered. The fog blocks A.’s gaze and does not allow him or us, the viewer, to bear witness to the indiscriminate violence. The fog, in effect, “freezes” our gaze, stops time, and we all

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148 become “targets.” And yet, an inhuman ethics, like the very transformation of the political, cannot simply come home to a classical subject bearing witness. In this manner, the real radical possibility is an epistemological transformation of the very grounding of a classical subject that would otherwise reconstitute the violence of its own abstract setting, the classical city. Postscript: Animalities “to-come” In “The Theses on History,” Walter Benjamin remarks “There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism . . . a historical materialist therefore dissociates himself from it as far a possible. He regards it as his task to brush history against the grain.” (257) With Benjamin’s own theoretical moves towards a counter-history to the history of “empty time,” there emerges a way to also conceive of how an ethics “to-come” that would traverse the history of metaphysics. Of course, we have seen this in the work of Levinas whose “ethics of an ethics” moves beyond Heidegger’s own fundamental ontology of “metaphysics of metaphysics.” Levinas revives the question of ethics, and by means of performativity, that of Saying, opens a way out of a political ontology, something that haunts the philosophy of Heidegger. An yet, as we have seen, Levinas to manages to reinscribe himself by way of transcendence positing of the “wholly other” back into a humanism as well. For Levinas and Heidegger, both reach their case-limit and ultimately fall back into humanism by being unable think through the animal. Nancy’s meditations on singularity, demonstrate a way of rethinking classical notions of community, and of city as the classical locus of philosophy as the political. By way of example, we are given the case of Sarajevo in which a discourse of violence is played out. Nancy, way always paying heed to the singularity of Sarajevo, nonetheless

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149 reminds of that “war is the enervation of humanism,” and peace a momentary pause. What such thought exposes us to is the violence of a humanistic discourse is which the human being can never leave the city proper. It was by examining the limits of the human being, particularly in terms of the animal, that a new ethics was able to glimmer. We have seen this in the case of Deleuze and Guattari’s attacks on Plato by means of the simulacra and of a becoming-animality, and logic of the surface that denies the very constitution of a Platonic Republic, in the affirmation of difference and the ‘powers of the false.” In The Logic of Sense Deleuze spoke of a transition to the aesthetic, and following this, Ulysses’ Gaze signals a way to ethically bear witness to a humanistic and Nationalistic violence by means of a singular memory opens up the possibility of a counter-history to the official history of the State. We see in the protagonist A, a witnessing that seeks to disrupt the city of violence, and with Laibach, we the question of memory and false testimony as performance art as a means of exposing and countering a totalitarian logic of the State. By way of following the limit-cases of the human being, and the metaphysical “empty history” and “empty city” that it inhabits as a political logic of violence, turning to the aesthetic, animality and an inhuman ethics, there is the possibility of a counter-history “to come” in which to bare witness. It would seem that developing such an animality-ethics must turn from the question of a human city-space to the univocity of being, in which no transcendence is possible, and also to further exploring the question of time and difference.

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LIST OF REFERENCES Agamben, Georgio. The Coming Community. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1992. ———. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999. ———. The Open: Man and Animal. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004. Assoun, Paul-Laurent. “The Subject and the Other in Levinas and Lacan.” (55-88) Trans. Dianah Jackson and Denise Merkle. In Levinas and Lacan: The Missed Encounter. Ed. Sarah Harasym. Albany: State University Bernasconi, Robert, and Simon Critchley, eds. Re-Reading Levinas. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991. Bernaconi, Robert. “Ethics” Ed. Deconstruction and Philosophy. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1988. Champagne, Roland. The Ethics of Reading According to Emmanuel Levinas. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1998. Critchley, Simon. The Ethics of Deconstruction: Derrida and Levinas. West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 1999. Cornell, Drucilla. Beyond Accommodation: Ethical Feminism, Deconstruction, and the Law. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 1999. Derrida, Jacques. “The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow)” Critical Inquiry (Winter 2002): 369-414 ———. Acts of Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991. ———. “Eating Well” Who comes after the Subject? Ed. Eduardo Cadava, Peter Connor, Jean-Luc Nancy. New York : Routledge, 1991. ———. “Economimesis” The Derrida Reader: Writing Performances Ed Julian Wolfreys. Edinburgh : Edinburgh University Press, 1998. ———.The Gift of Death. Trans. David Wills. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. 150

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151 ———. “Geschlect II: “Heidegger’s Hand.” Deconstruction and Philosophy. Trans. John P. Leavey, Jr. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987. ———. Of Spirit: Heidegger and the Question. Trans. Geoffery Bennington and Rachel Bowley. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989 ———.Acts of Religion. Trans. “Faith and Knowledge” Ed. Jacques Derrida and Gianni Vattimo. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998 ———. “Violence and Metaphysics” Writing and Difference. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984 Deleuze, Gilles, Cinema I. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1995. ———Cinema II. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1995 ———. Difference and Repetition. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990. ———1000 Plateaus. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1985. ———Kafka: Towards a Minor Literature. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1986. ——— The Logic of Sense. New York: University of Columbia Press, 1990 Dreyfus, Herbert, Being-In-The-World: A Commentary on Heidegger’s Being and Time, Division I, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England1991 Eaglestone, Robert. Ethical Criticism: Reading after Levinas. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998. Foucault, Michel. The Foucault Reader. Ed. Paul Rabinow. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988. Gibson, Andrew. Postmodernity, Ethics, and the Novel: From Leavis to Levinas. London: Routledge, 1999. Guevara, Ernesto Che. “The Murdered Puppy” Episodes of the Cuba Revolutionary War 1956-58. Ed. Mary-Alice Waters. New York: Pathfinder, 1996. Hardt, Michael, Negri, Antonio, Empire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000. Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. Trans Joan Stambaugh. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996 ———.The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude. Trans. William McNeill and Nicholas Walker. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1995. Hemon, Aleksandar, Nowhere Man, New York: Doubleday, 2002

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152 Levinas, Emmanuel. Basic Philosophical Writings. Ed. Adriaan T. Peperzak, Simon Critchley, and Robert Bernasconi. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996. ———. “Is Ontology Fundamental?” Trans. Simon Critchley, Peter Atterton, and Graham Noctor. In Levinas, Basic Philosophical Writings 2-10. ———. “Meaning and Sense.” Trans. Alphonso Lingis. In Levinas, Basic Philosophical Writings 33-64. ———.Re-Reading Levinas. Ed. Robert Bernasconi and Simon Critchley. Indiana: University of Indiana Press, 1991 ———. “Philosophy and the Idea of Infinity.” Collected Philosophical Papers. Trans. Alphonso Lingis. Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1987. 47-59. ———. “The Trace of the Other.” Trans. Alphonso Lingis. Deconstruction in Context: Literature and Philosophy. Ed. Mark C. Taylor. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986. 345-59. ———.Totality and Infinity: an Essay on Exteriority. Trans. Alphonso Lingis. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1969. Lacoue-Labarthe, Philippe. Typography : Mimesis, Philosophy, Politics.Ed. Christopher Fynsk. Cambridge, MA :Harvard University Press, 1989. ——. Heidegger: Art and Politics. Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, 1990. Lyotard, Jean-Franois. The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. (1979) Trans. Geoffrey Bennington and Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984. Miller, J. Hillis. The Ethics of Reading: Kant, de Man, Eliot, Trollope, James, and Benjamin. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987. Norris, Christopher. Truth and the Ethics of Criticism. New York: St. Martin’s, 1994. Nancy, Jean-Luc, The Inoperative Community. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1990. ——. Being Singular Plural. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000. Nietzsche, Friedrich. “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense.” Philosophy and Truth: Selections from Nietzsche is Notebooks of the Early 1870’s. Ed. and Trans. Daniel Breazeale. New Jersey: Humanities Press International, Inc., 1990. Robbins, Jill. Altered Reading: Levinas and Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.Navia, Luis E., Diogenes of Sinope: the Man in the Tub. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1998.

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153 Pepper, Thomas. : “Editor’s Preface: The Law—Not Good Enough Father” The Place of Maurice Blanchot Ed. Thomas Pepper, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. Plotnitsky, Arkady. “Postmodernism and Postmodernity” Introducing Literary Theories: A Guide and Glossary. Ed. Julian Wolfreys, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2001. Ronell, Avital. “Hitting the Streets” Finitudes’ Score: Essays for the End of the Millennium. Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1994. Sloterdijk, Peter. Critique of Cynical Reason. Trans. Michael Eldred. Minnesota. University of Minnesota Press, 1987 Robbins, Jill. Altered Reading: Levinas and Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999. Tarkofsky, Andrey, Sculpting in Time: Reflection on the Cinema, Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986 Ulmer, Gregory, Applied Grammatology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985. Walker, Margaret Urban. Moral Understandings: A Feminist Study in Ethics. New York: Routledge, 1998. Wolfreys, Julian. Affirmative Resistances. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 2002. ———. The Derrida Reader: Writing Performances (Stages). Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1998. ———.Glossalalia: An Alphabet of Critical Key Words. Ed. Julian Wolfreys. New York: Routledge, 2003. ———. Introducing Literary Theories. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 2002. ———.Occasional Deconstructions New York: State University of New York Press, 2004

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154 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Before coming to the University of Fl orida, Frederick Young was involved in numerous art and political projects in the Sa n Francisco Bay Area. In particular, he worked with the Artist Television Access Gall ery in San Francisco. Du ring his tenure at the University of Florida, he was an Asso ciate Artist Fellow during a Residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, working with Richard Kostelanetz. With Kostelanetz, John M. Bennett, and Michael Peters, Frederick Young is involved in the ongoing project, based at the American Avant-garde collection at Ohio State, of inve stigating the French Avant-garde architect, Fleury Colon. Work ing with his mentor, Julian Wolfreys, he published the following book chapters, “L evinas and Criticism: Ethics in the Impossibility of Criticism” in Criticism at the 21st Century and “Animality: Notes Toward a Manifesto” in Glossalalia. He is also co-editing with Julian Wolfreys, Spectres of Derrida, for SUNY Press, as well as contributing an essay, “H aunting Derrida,” to the collection. In addition he is coauthoring with Julian Wolfreys a Derrida Glossary for the University of Edinburgh Press. He was rece ntly named Associate Editor of the journal Politics and Culture: An Intern ational Review of Books. Finally, he has accepted a position at Georgia Institute of Technology as Brittain Fellow in the Department of Literature, Communication and Technology.