Ten Notes on First Seminar Meeting, September 2, 2014

This is simply to underline some of the topics that came up at the first seminar session, as part of the discussion, and that are far from settled. This is abstract and perhaps difficult thought, but it is meant to open up some access to dealing with concrete possibilities for thinking experience at every level. I propose ten notes:

1. The auto/heterographic inscription, or autography for short, is a singular incidence into writing (a generalized writing that also includes inscription into life in all ways) that exceeds subjective capture. This excess of the subject is essentially mysterious—it opens up, without explaining it, the possibility of a precarious thought beyond the subject, hence also of a politics beyond the subject. Perhaps this is what is called infrapolitics.

2. Autography or infrapolitics are allegorical names for quasiconceptual structures that cannot be captured into a theoretical definition, that is, into a conceptual determination—since a conceptual determination would turn them into merely captured remnants of an unnameable excess. Thinking through or from them is, on the one hand, what we do every day, what everybody does every day. At the same time, it is also what we seem to have no way of referring to except by doing it. The narrowest abyss is hence the most difficult to cross (Nietzsche).

3. Would that we became masters of metaphor, following Aristotle’s dictum “The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor; it cannot be taught; it is a matter of genius” (Poetics). Could we, as masters of metaphor, be able to define or conceptually to grasp structures such as infrapolitics or autography? Or is it not rather the case that attempting to become masters of metaphor is already a symptom of the failure of spirit to relate to what cannot be conceptually thought? But that spirit—is it all spirit or is it the metaphysical spirit, which thrives on forgetting?

4. Is deconstruction an attempt to deal with the failure of metaphor? With the fact that metaphor can never stabilize itself, that it produces a ceaseless and perpetually disavowed excess that the tradition has sometimes, even if rarely, called Being? Perhaps deconstruction is indeed the attempt to liberate the excess of metaphor, not for the sake of another metaphor, only for the sake of listening in when what has been forgotten/disavowed stirs anew. Does that mean that deconstruction looks for the end of metaphor, for an unmetaphorizable language? But no—a demetaphorized language would be a dead language.

5. And yet, the attempt to stop demetaphorization is totalitarian politics itself, it is the very mark of oppression. A demotic politics opposes every attempt not at demetaphorization, but at stopping the natural (that is, historic) entropic process of demetaphorization for the sake of a continuous production of new figures that can never turn into one (master) figure. For demotic politics (the politics of radical democratic republicanism that I associated with the Derridean project) there aren’t many masters, because there is no master.

6. So the seminar does not propose a master trope as starting ground—since every metaphor, in Platonic terms, is always a figure of the sun, it does not posit a heliopolitical goal. Rather, it posits the dark light of the perpetual interruption of metaphor for the sake of metaphor, an ongoing demetaphorization that opens up, perhaps, a way into listening otherwise.

7. This otherwise—a new way into politics and at the same time a way outside politics. Since politics is not the horizon of thought but politics cannot be disavowed by thought.

8. Is a demetaphorized metaphor (say, Absolute Knowledge, Deus sive Natura, the Being of beings) always and in every case the trace of a broken hegemony (Schurmann)? Yes, which means that deconstruction if necessarily posthegemonic thought, a-principial thinking. Infrapolitics looks for deconstruction in politics, or political deconstruction.

9. Is infrapolitics merely the opposite of heliopolitics? If heliopolitics rotates about a master trope of signification, that is, a sun of meaning, infrapolitics does not rotate around an axis. It is a spiral whose region of expression eats heliopolitics for breakfast.

10. So how does this relate to actual political processes, to our own inscription into politics, to our reading of texts, to our professionalization, to our relationship with death and temporality?

[Sorry, I was going to respond to 10, but then it was already 10 and I had to stop my notes.)


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