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Showing posts from May 8, 2011

Music of the spheres

Caillois’ notion of play and games, outlined in Games and Man, attracted an influential attack, “Homo Ludens Revisited”, by Jacques Ehrman in 1968. Ehrman’s article is one of the first really deconstructive articles published in America. It appeared in the Yale French Review, which was establishing itself at the time as the bridgehead of a Tel Quel sensibility in the United States. The attack took on the underlying binaries, such as Ehrman saw them, in Caillois’ essay. The strategy of showing an underlying incoherence in the binaries, either as an overlap of their extensions or as an insufficient motivation for the arguments based upon them – either as too much or too little – went on to become a common feature of American literary criticism. Deconstruction in America became a form of demasking – which is an especially pertinent term for the criticism of an essay that poses the question of the function of the mask. Ehrman ostensively directs his attack at Huinzinga, but the emoti

Amie's site

In the seventies, Roland Barthes turned to the particular and the neutral, towards fascination and love, which altogether formed the third stage in his ‘semiological adventure.’ Here, political engagement gave place to a hedonism that was also, of course, an openness to pain, for pain is the vulnerability intrinsic to pleasure, the complement as well as the adversary, the deepening and that out of which sweetness comes as a sort of startling new premise into the world – for if the world holds such sweetness, surely it must be a different and stranger place than one took it for. What one took it for was indifferent – because it is indifference, rather than pain, that is the real opposite of pleasure, its real annihilation. Pain and pleasure can both be unbearable, but indifference is all too bearable. Pain, then, is also part of the process. In particular, the pain Barthes felt was the loss of the person he most loved his mother. The first photo in his 1975 book, Roland Barthes by Ro

The dirty decade(s)

I find it cruelly amusing that the media and the power elite in America, at the moment, are having a fake wonder moment - why, OBL was in Pakistan of all places! I can only compare this to discovering that the tooth fairy is a fake, or that no, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus. Did anybody, year after year, think he was anywhere else? I, luckily for my told-you-so tendencies, although unluckily for my mental health, have long kept a blog, Limited Inc, and from the end of 2001 until the assassination of OBL, I have had no doubt about the status of the tooth fairy or of Osama bin Laden. So why was I so sure? well, for one thing, I did not rely on the American media for my news. During the Bush years, a whole new method of managing consent was devised, in which the media could continue to pretend they maintained a critical function towards our governors whilst doffing their hats, bowing and scraping, and generally retailing nonsense. They straddled servility and 'freedom' by

Deleuze, Guattari, Caillois and the lobster

On page 53 or Mille Plateaux, there is a picture of a lobster under one of the puzzling titles, all attached to a puzzling Chronotope, in that loaded gun of a book – a book that translates universal history into the Pynchonian idiom of the shaggy dog story. I was not thinking of that book when I began my own lobster’s tale, but surely Geoffroy’s homard is not so far away from D and G’s appropriation of Conan Doyle’s Professor Challenger. The story is told in the Professor’s voice (and remember, that voice becomes more and more animal as the tale moves on), and the choice of the lobster is emphasized from the beginning: Dieu est un Homard ou une double-pince, un double-bind. Ce n'est pas seulement les strates qui vont par deux au moins, mais d'une autre façon chaque strate est double ( elle aura elle-même plusieurs couches ). Chaque strate présente en effet des phénomènes constitutifs de double articulation. (God is a lobster or a double-claw, a double bind. It is not only