LI, much like the New York Times, Fox News, and Vogue, has an international staff of dedicated journalists working 24/7. Our correspondent in France, Amie, recently sent a far ranging response to our post about Mailer as a philosopher/buffoon, which she has kindly agreed to let us publish.
The passage from Hippias Minor really is remarkable, the way it articulates power, knowledge, justice -- and the 'subject' (in the double sense) of 'true' discourse. Who is speaking? Socrates seems to occupy all the positions in turn in this dialogue's theater -- Homer, Achilles, Odysseus! In the end he cannot even quite believe or agree with or even quite know what he is saying himself. In Socratic terms, this would mean, at this juncture, he doesn't know himself! And ah, what of the silent narrator, Plato 'himself', seated in the wings, 'merely' observing, recording, reporting. Quite.
Another remarkable aspect of this passage from an early and 'minor' dialogue is that this matter of the character and the discourse of a polytropos pretty much relates to THE question for Plato -- that would necessitate the booting of the poets from the Republic -- regarding that pesky jobie so hard to pin down let alone resolve: mimesis.
Er, not to worry, I'm not about to launch into a 'commentary' on the Republic! I do beg your indulgence if I cannot help but relate these amazing passages to what is happening in this here Republic of France. You've likely heard of the strikes underway by the Unions and students, and can well imagine the punditry in response. The unions and students are portrayed as spoiled and self-centered, ungrateful of their privileges. "France" is told it can longer live in the 60s and 70s and must modernize, i.e., accept the generous reign of the 'free' market, the benevolent rule of the 'invisible hand'. (Thatcher and Reagan are the very models of modernity, don't ya know!)
As a pharmakon to the nauseating punditry, I've been reading Rimbaud's Saison and am struck again by the magnificent tenir le pas gagné. AR wanted to have done with canticles to Science and Magic, liars all! Alas, their hymns to the invisible hand still need to be fought, exposed, mocked. The fucking invisible hand has blood on it! The question for the 'seer' is to render it visible, legible in its violent mechanisms. One needs to have the 'eye' for it, as you say. And of course such an 'other' eye has its violence and madness...
Such hymns are not content to just praise their Holy Invisible Hand which smites public services and reduces them to rubble, which is for the public good - if only the infidels could see! The choir knows that its praise and good work is in vain if it does not also accomplish an abasement of public discourse, the effacement of social relations.
Sorry. I rant. But one last comment. I might be wrong, but I think the hymns to the invisible hand go hand in hand with what you call Happiness Triumphant. Unless I'm mistaken, the latter has ab-solute disconnect as a defining characteristic. It is like a perpetually and feverishly expanding bubble that can never be or have enough. A bubble that nothing can touch or burst, that knows nothing of the voluptuousness of a touch and of mortality, except in the form of fear and fascination, of revulsion and murder.
"Enough" is the title of a very beautiful short text by Beckett. Here is the last line:
Enough my old breasts feel his old hand.”
And for more on the strikes, and Sarkozy’s ‘strategy of the scapegoat’ – which consists of provoking the most vulnerable unions to strike in order to pick off, piecemeal, the whole system of unions, a la Thatcher – see many of the posts at the Betapolitique site.