la retourne

As I said before I left for visions of the West, I am going to do a couple of weeks of posts about Kierkegaard – or at least broadly about Kierkegaard. I want to deal especially with Repetition and with The Concept of Anxiety. I want to look at these themes in Kierkegaard from the point of view of the critique of the happiness culture, in which alienation and the claims of the imagination can embody ways out of what is becoming dominant as the Great Transformation destroys the ancien regime and the human limit is dissolved – that is, some other justification for collective life, life in society, other than that justified by happiness.

I want to remember that Repetition is written at the same time that Marx is working out the critical, materialist idea of alienation – a name for certain broad tendencies within the capitalist system. I want to put this under the theme of the path of needles and the path of pins, Michelet’s dialectic of the witch – in which backwards is essentially different from, resistant to, forwards – in accordance with my private rule for Gnostic historians, who pick up on intersignes where others see simple coincidence and who understant that the path is no simple thing – neural paths, paths of breadcrumbs, path of needles, path of pins. The radical dissymmetry between backwards and forwards had made me, at least, a prisoner of the crossroads – that moment in non-identity with itself – where magic and positivism are our players. Or our sides. Or our side effects.

Card of retourne.

We are not surprised, then – that at the very beginning of Repetition, the movements pull apart. Or rather, we hide our surprise between the glacial mask of the master fucker, the Sadean libertine, the holder of the card of retourne:

“Say what you will, this problem is going to play an important role in modern philosophy because repetition is a decisive expression for what “recollection” was for the Greeks. Just as they taught that all knowledge is “recollection”, thus will modern philosophy teach that life itself is a repetition. The only modern philosopher who has had the least intimation of this is Leibniz. Repetition and recollection are the same movement, just in opposite directions, because what is recollected has already been and is thus repeated backwards, whereas genuine repetition is recollected forwards. Repetition, if it si possible, thus makes a person happy, while recollection makes him unhappy, assuming of course that he actually gives himself the time to live and does not, immediately upon the hour of his birth hit upon an excuse, such as that he has forgotten something, to sneak back out of life again.”