clerks and moralists

Two notes on what I have been working on:

1. The literature of the moralistes, a literature which is, at the center, a reflection on character, is the great ancestor of the literature of the clerks, the marginal Daoist tradition that runs from the clerk Hamaan to the clerk Kafka. Character, for the clerks, is a ruin, a roofless and desecrated temple, an archaeological site – the clerks all respond, in one way or another, to the Bartleby principle: I would prefer not to. The world of the clerks reflect fully the two removes that characterize the modern – the remove from nature and from production – both removes, of course, managed by Capital. The clerks inherit the moralists lack of systematicity (the idea of the essai, of experience as a trial, an experiment), but among the clerks that lack has turned to hatred. And this hatred, what is it? It is hatred of the dominance of substitution, a fear of losing their interiority, their difference, completely to substitution. It is a fear that arises from their place as agents of circulation, in Marx’s terms.

2. When considering Pons, or the man who sacrifices himself to a deal, to the joy of the deal, for objects that are ‘useless’, that are ‘aesthetic’ – I have all too quickly brought up the term obsession, with all its psychoanalytic meaning. But obsession in the 18th or 19th century can be interpreted with the heuristics-in-use at the time.