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Saturday, July 28, 2007

cet envoûté éternel...

When we quoted Jacques Derrida in our post the other day about the media’s double audience, our far flung correspondent T. in NYC raised an eyebrow. Mr. T. likes the idea of this blog never mentioning Derrida in the same way that Georges Perec never uses the letter ‘e’ in La Disparition. The referential absence eventually calls attention to itself by the force of its tremendous silence. And we understand Mr. T.’s point. Actually, we got the same idea from Derrida himself. Somewhere, perhaps in the lectures on Ponge, perhaps in an interview, Derrida claims that one of his essays on Hegel is really all about Ponge. If memory serves. Now, the cool thing about that claim is that Ponge is not mentioned in the essay. Of course, this is the kind of gesture that drives Derrida’s enemies just up the wall. And there is something obviously facile in saying, oh, I wrote x and I was thinking of y. To make the claim non-facile, you have to work with obsessions and themes that would make it meaningful as a compositional principle. I consider it a form of l'envoûtement – a seduction/abduction, a possession through charms. The devil, of course, used to practice l'envoûtement. Often the magician takes an effigy that is connected in some way with the victim – for instance, a follicle of the victims hair is mixed in with the dough or clay from which one creates the effigy – and by this means gains control over the victim. It is a metaphysical kidnapping. Artaud returns to the term in his last writings, and literally considers those writings a form of contre-l'envoûtement. For Artaud, it was the drugs and electroshock and conceptual schema of the psychiatrists that was winding him in, and against which he had to protect himself:

« Le même personnage revient chaque matin accomplir sa révoltante criminelle et assassine sinistre fonction qui est de maintenir l’envoûtement sur moi, de continuer à faire de moi cet envoûté éternel …”

(the same person returns each morning to perform his revolting criminal and murder- sinister function, which is to maintain the spell they have on me, to continue to make of me that eternal victim of enchantment.)

To perform the contre-l'envoûtement, that piece of magic, one must inverse the spell – one must operate on the hazardous path of the negation of the negation.

Now, to my mind, this conflict between these regimes of spells gives us the musical structure of Derrida’s work. A lot of philosophers ignore, or are ignorant of the fact that a text has a musical structure. Not J.D. This is why Derrida uses blanks and silences in the way he does – there is always some abduction or elopement going on there, out of the seraglio of Western metaphysics and into the streets!

Anyway, in that spirit, I like the idea that I am abducting Derrida from the professional deconstructionists and the spiderweb of a by now canonical language and I do it partly by using his things without referencing the name. It isn’t sorcery anymore – it is called sampling, kids. Standard DJ stuff. But I’m not clever enough to do this with complete consistency. If I was, would I have written this post?

4 comments:

love and terrorism said...

I think that your conflation of Derrida and Artaud is interesting in if you think about the Lacanian description of paranoid fantasies as a response to the imaginary conflation of an obscene reality that the symbolic Law normally prohibits, which try to provide a type of compensation for whatever is lost in the completely obscene mental space.

In Artaud’s case, and I guess in the case of all paranoia, a fantasmatic paranoid delusion of some seductive evil would be a response to the obscene collapse of the symbolic world. That is, such paranoia is somehow seductive in its obscenity. Maybe that’s one reason why Baudrillard says that schitzophrenia is exemplary of our modernity.

On a distinct but related point, I’m a bit schitzo, and often this has led me to avoid your site because of its layout. A couple of times I’ve found that the huge sets of archives in neat rows are pretty frightening. Of course I don’t mean this in an accusatory or prescriptive way but rather only as an observation that you might find interesting :-)

love and terrorism said...

I should say that I was a bit schitzo. I don't meet enough of the integral criteria to qualify anymore.

Sorry, just has to tell that to the Big Other, but I guess that you might be a bit scared now, or not?

Amie said...

Les paroles sont toutes faites et s'expriment : elles ne m'expriment point. C'est alors qu'enseigner l'art de résister aux paroles devient utile, l'art de ne dire que ce qu'on veut dire, l'art de les violenter et de les soumettre. Donnez tout au moins la parole à la minorité de vous-mêmes. Soyez poètes. ("Rhétorique", 1935, in "Le Parti pris des choses")

roger said...

Amie, I love the Ponge! Although it strikes me that the art to make words submit is Humpty Dumpty's art. Don't you think? The voice of the perfect object - a shell.

L&T - sorry about the archive. It would be nice to have a template that would give you a link to an archive page. But blogspot doesn't, I think, have that.

As for this - "I think that your conflation of Derrida and Artaud is interesting in if you think about the Lacanian description of paranoid fantasies as a response to the imaginary conflation of an obscene reality that the symbolic Law normally prohibits, which try to provide a type of compensation for whatever is lost in the completely obscene mental space,"

I'm not totally sure what you mean. Do you mean that the notion of the effigy that casts a spell is a response to a traumatic encounter of some kind? that the person rapt away by a spell involving that person's double, who casts back a spell dependent on there being a double of the first caster of the spell, is embroiled in some complex way with taboos? That seems pretty clear to me, too. But I don't understand the reference to the "obscene collapse of the symbolic world."

In a sense, I feel like the Derridian use of envoutement could exist in a number of universes - in the Lacanian univers of the Other, symbol, law - in the Marxist universe of capital, class, alienation - even, say, in Santayana's universe of common sense, nature, and immediate essences. It would have different effects within them. I'm interested in the technique of that immersion and envoutement.