Friday, 10 September 2010

Undoing Clinamen (Of Community)

An Idea has no sex and no face.

1.  Dasein-Gravity

Why Facebook – why not Armbook or Teethbook?  The implication is that through the face one becomes recognisable – yet the first question is “not the x you were looking for?” or “Wrong x? Search for others”.  So recognising can also mean recognising as ‘not the one’ – not as the one – also implying there are a limited amount of names (one could have called it Namebook – mimicking Lloyd’s Names) but a less limited amount of faces, putting a name to a face is now putting a face to a name.  But the face is only a point of departure for other faces – following the Heraclitean principle – the stream of ‘friends’ clustering around each face is constantly changing.  The friends of the face lead you further and further away from the initial face – and for each face and its friends it is the same.  And yet this is not a random progression or succession – because the Facebook lines never progress, they just go on – the random wandering through a crowd which might seem similar is counteracted by the mathematical probabilities of the revolving groups.  Behind the faces are not names nor names behind faces – but numbers – and a kind of set theory governing the building of groups.  One face appears with eight other faces at a time called friends – each friend instigates another group possibly but not necessarily containing the starting face.  This reflects the non-reciprocity (presumably) of those volatile tenuous friend relations – but this unreliable friend relation is a mathematical necessity for the Facebook configuration (the indefinite quasi-infinite mazurka, quadrille of Facebook) to go on endlessly.  It is the ‘clinamen’ effect – that Epicurean inclination of the atom – without which there would be neither change nor sets.  Even the non-reciprocity or defriending is essential (mathematically speaking) – to give fresh impetus to clinamen.  Otherwise it would get stuck in one tilt.  This would create Face-Blocs – the numbers alias faces must continuously move to circulate.  As the French court preacher Bossuet said, life must circulate, life must change hands.  Thus instinctively Web guardians such as certain Technorati editors feel compelled – the inner voice of the number – to urge Facebook members to defriend.  Unloading the ballast of previous clinamens is the only way to guarantee the life force of clinamen itself.  Human ‘emotions’ or ‘affects’ are the necessary drivers of the number game.  When one unchooses a Facebook friend one is promoting ontological ecology at the atomic level of the universe.

Clinanem, a concept originating in the atomism of Epicurus and Lucretius, is a function of the law of indeterminacy in the universe.  Without it nothing would ever happen let alone be created in the persistent rain of atoms into the abyss.  Clinamen induces collision – stress – rupture – all the generative acts.  But each swerve towards the other atom is necessarily a swerve away from another point – one act of clinamen constructs and deconstructs at the same time.  It is also something like ‘free will’ on the atomic level – the will to the unexpected – such as revolt. 

Clinamen is, for Jean-Luc Nancy, a metaphor for the submission or ‘inclining’ of the atom-individual towards “community”.  Even more - “Community is at least the clinamen of the “individual”.” (“The Inoperative Community” in: The Inoperative Community, University of Minnesota Press, 1991, pp. 3-4)  The atom uses its free will to join itself to an entity in which it will cease to be an “individual” – like in Carl Maria von Weber’s “Der Freischütz” – the atom qua magic bullet has one shot to hit its mark.  The principle of clinamen in ancient atomism serves rather to individuate the otherwise indistinguishable atom – in Nancy’s doctrine of community the atom’s clinamen is a retreat from its “immanence” – its autarchic absolute self.  Afterwards in Nancy’s interpretation the atom forfeits all its elasticity of self – it is only an indistinguishable part of “community”.  The ‘atom’ seems to have transformed itself discreetly in Nancy’s interpretation into an alias of Heidegger’s Dasein – the “community” into the Volksgemeinschaft.  Clinamen is the socio-genetic act of communal absorption – the atom moves ‘outside’ of itself and ‘inside’ something greater than itself – community.  Once inside there is no egress.  But community is more than just an aggregate of atoms – it is a principle of non-immanence, of always being outside of oneself – or as Nancy following Heidegger says – of ecstasy. 
Oddly though the individual or atom occupies at least two positions in relation to community – its clinamen in some way is a ‘pre-historical’ or primeval act of creation and at the same time the individual-atom is merely the abstract result of the “decomposition” of community.
This would mean though that community is primary – a view certainly favored by Nancy.  In this second version community would have ‘preceded’ the individual historically and metaphysically – the atom would not have ‘composed’ it originally by its one and only act of clinamen.  The individual is merely a part of the unravelling of community, a passive fruit of its degeneration or decadence.  But then the atom’s clinamen would have been made redundant.  Unless one could assume hypothetically that a pre-existing community, whose formation is ontologically given or apriori, would have been shattered in an equally remote time.  The remnants of this primeval cataclysm, its diaspora, re-gather in a secondary act of clinamen, each on its own, into a new imperfect body.  Such a sequence resembles the Kabbalistic concept of the ‘breaking of the vessels’.  Although Nancy insists that actually community never was – so that it cannot have been lost, the feelings of loss are only nostalgia for a chimera – perhaps the “inoperative” community implies some similar idea of an original shattering of community, which if it subsequently existed then only in an inferior haphazardly reconstructed form.

Whatever platform of reality community qua being occupies it is apparent, that Nancy continuously wavers between these several versions of the relation between community and individual.  But perhaps these are not really versions – rather Nancy’s implicit recognition that the individual or atom does not just swerve once.  That clinamen is not a finite singular act – but a principle of motion in the universe.  Otherwise he would be condemning the atom to its remaining skewered in its one and only swerve forever – the world would turn to stone eternally, history would vanish.  But obviously the principle of clinamen – one of abrupt change of course, a kind of random suddenness, with no final destination – can not be a one-off.  It would become something absolutely contingent and uncertain as a principle - if it happens once it can happen countless times.  If the atom can incline itself toward – it can equally incline itself away from a point – this is what happens when bodies cleave abruptly or disintegrate over time – on a social empirical level friendships break, love dies, empires collapse, saturation points of all kinds are reached.  Even bankruptcy can be seen as the negative clinamen of the atomic workings of the ‘community’ of Capital.  As a devout Heideggerian Nancy finds it difficult to conceive of ontological moves ‘away’ from a point – so many of Heidegger’s terms include the move towards – for instance being-towards-death, being-with, all kinds of fusional modes.  Even ‘falling’ (Verfallen Sein) is at least a move towards a kind of abyss – an ontological surrender to the force of Dasein-gravity.  Falling is something Dasein endures or experiences – falling happens to Dasein rather than Dasein doing it.  “But singularity never has the nature or the structure of individuality.  Singularity never takes place at the level of atoms, those identifiable if not identical identities; rather it takes place at the level of the clinamen, which is unidentifiable.  It is linked to ecstasy: one could not properly say that the singular being is the subject of ecstasy, for ecstasy has no “subject” – but one must say that ecstasy (community) happens to the singular being.” (“The Inoperative Community” op. cit. pp. 6-7)

Nancy’s aporia - how to think being-away within a system of thought premised on being-toward – in other words passive (willless, inoperative?) happenings and spatial (static) finite concentration?  The atom is finally deprived of its clinamen, its power of movement or acceleration, its deviation from the line.  An intermediate level of “singularity” is inserted between the atom and its clinamen.  Clinamen is.  For a Heideggerian thinking clinamen is thus ‘logically’ an empty magnetism with only one pole – only attracting never repelling.  Perhaps the new Facebook atom is rather willed and aimless, than will-less and predestined for community like the old Heideggerian atom cum Dasein (singularity) Nancy is intent on memorializing.

Still if clinamen as the founding act of community happens only once, then Nancy’s concept of community would require the abolition of chance – but in the words of Mallarmé – no throw of the dice can abolish chance. 
Degrees of ecstasy:  How to distinguish between the ecstasy of Being = Community and the ecstasy of fusion?  Is there a gradient from one to the other?  An elevation?  The path of excess? Of failure? Of betrayal?



 2.  Unbuilding

Rural spots are dedicated to keeping the accident alive.  To observe world history or the cosmos for that matter from the rural unbuilt areas is to be in a permanently arrested clinamen – or in a continuous eccentric semi-revolution.  Rural in this case is also peripheral.  One turns away from rural apparent emptiness and at the same time towards metropolitan apparent fullness.  Neither are quite what they seem.  But the uneventfulness of the rural area seems to imply it has dropped out or away from historical causality – from any causality, which does not originate in the city.  The U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under Franklin D. Roosevelt Henry Morgenthau wanted to turn defeated Nazi Germany into one big farm or cabbage patch – his plan was not realised.  Although some areas of East Germany have slipped into such a re-ruralisation on their own – Eisenhüttenstadt, Nordhausen even parts of Berlin to name a few.  It is the power of the physical land itself in absence of a human constructive will which carries out any process of decivilization.  In Eisenhüttenstadt for instance – the bureaucratic will is not absent but mostly deconstructive.  Entropy and the negative human plan coincide.  The Eisenhüttenstadt Blog nostalgically documents the progress of demolition – posting photographs of the pieces of brick and mortar falling from the crumbling facades of hotels on the main street (potentially striking the passers-by), of empty apartment blocks with the caption – this is now a flat field.  The photographic remains of every area of still erect built space looking picturesque in the setting sun or painted over with graffiti, just sunlight itself pouring through an empty unnaturally wide street, even cracked tiles where once a statue of the unicorn, the city mascot, stood are cherished like heirlooms.
The same demolishing power chewing up Eisenhüttenstadt lurks in any semi-unbuilt rural area as the constant stochastic force of the original wasteland.  The wilderness is the perpetual intermittent event of any rural space. 
There is a power in degeneracy – it is the power of undoing.  As Nancy writes – “The relation (the community) is, if it is, nothing other than what undoes, in its very principle – and at its closure or on its limit – the autarchy of absolute immanence.” (“The Inoperative Community”, op. cit. p. 4)

One night after watching “Blade-Runner” we stepped out into the night of true nihilism – the empty streets of a ‘spectral suburb’ like village on the Thames.  What we soon saw made “Blade-Runner” seem like an optimistic heart-warming film – all those buildings in good repair, enterprising agents, streets teeming with extras – civilization is in full flower.  How much more horror is presented by the unevents of sheer living – outside of any plot or pattern.  Or if any pattern – then only the traces of clinamen.  Such an unauthored unevent accosted our eyes from which the film images were rapidly fading – we saw as we approached the old people’s flats on the outskirts of what is itself an outskirt, that something there had been quite deranged.  It turned out to be their boundary wall or what was left of it.  The walls in front of the old people’s flats had been semi-razed – unbuilt in various unrelated ways.  Columns twisted around and knocked over, bricks plucked out and partially crushed down – one wonders how it could have taken place without interference, how many hands were working on it.  Were they enchanted?  But in particular – the treatment of the hedges was astonishing.  The privet seemed turned inside out and axed through and flayed.  “Mon cœur repose sous ces débris (…)” (Gerard de Nerval)

Unremarkable scenes are the accident in its dormant state – the sparsely furnished mimicry (mimesis) of the void.  Its truth, the accident, lies on the surface although in abeyance.  ‘Aletheia’ appears in suspension.
The more characterless it is, the more indistinguishable from other scenes, the more the spot lies in ambush.  This is a principle of natural sham – its mimicry or ruse is always based on some kind of heightened normality – one is instinctively on one’s guard against the ‘normal’. 

Return to the scene of the accidents, the riverbank.  The rains have softened down the meadow especially at the stile, closest to the river.  The mud is so whipped up and smooth I almost slip.  A lady walking her dog might have seen me sliding around.  As I came to the stile crossing she spoke to me from the other side: Last winter a lady broke her leg here, one would have thought they would have put down some gravel.
I: Yes it’s very slippery.
The woman could have been one of those guardians of the rivers from the English legends – those who half warn, half frighten the traveller into his doom.  They are human abstractions of the landscape – a remnant of the old pagan economy of sacrifice.  A primitive or prototype of the exchange relation.  The victim of the river is offered in exchange for the prosperity of the community – but it is a self-activating ritual happening by chance.  The murderous rivers are often spoken of as ‘she’.  The locals living around the river Dart on the edge of Dartmoor have heard ‘her’ cry.  Of the Dart it is said:  The Dart, the Dart – the cruel Dart
Every year demands a heart…

The woman probably wanted to sound sympathetic, but it came out as a kind of threat or curse.  The logic behind it, places known to have their built in natural menace should be preserved, protected like sacred sites, and left untouched.  It also happened to be the closest point to the river’s edge.  One could just as easily slip down into the water as break one’s leg on the riverbank.
I: I didn’t feel like wearing my wellies.
She: Although you needed them.
Errors of judgement are good introductions to the accident.

The friendliness of a secret enemy can only be the working of the evil eye.  Roy, the retired mechanic, looked too inquisitively at me when asking me how I am.  I said:  Very well thank you.  Two hours later I had the flu. The mechanical evil eye works especially well at a distance.  His former partner who now runs the garage together with a Caliban assistant whose face is so disfigured I have never dared to look at him (I know it only by hearsay) operate in the same fashion.  They count on weather and natural forces to set their contraptions in motion.  Timing doesn’t matter.  They are not in a hurry.

3.  Caves

In the story “The Immortal” by Borges troglodytes play an important part.  They are a valuable literary fixture – cave dwellers, ancient geography – mentioned in Montesquieu’s “Lettres Persanes” – also in Flavius.  Troglodytes are the children of Abraham by a wife after the death of Sarah.  The natural inclination in the garden is also the formation of caves – another proof of the essential correspondence between the vegetable and mineral in nature.  The vegetable caves are dark damp places made by plants growing on top of plants, piling up roofs of foliage upon armatures of branches.  The natural ‘geodesic’ forms are produced by the struggle of plants for hegemony.  Plants are cave producers if not cave dwellers. Is this the will in plants?  According to theories of metempsychosis this ‘will’ comes from souls on their restless cycle of transmigration now inhabiting the plant.  Mme de Staël quotes Schubert’s philosophy of plant will.  Schopenhauer incorporates these ideas of will in non-human creatures or entities into his general philosophy of will, although he has only scorn for Schubert’s “Symbolik des Traumes” (Symbolism of Dreams).  Nietzsche wrote disapprovingly of Schopenhauer’s obsession with will: “ 127. Schopenhauer, mit seiner Annahme , dass Alles, was da sei, nur etwas Wollendes sei, hat eine uralte Mythologie auf den Thron gehoben;(…)” (Fröhliche Wissenschaft, München, 1988, p. 483) (Schopenhauer, with his assumption, that everything which is here, can only be something which wills, placed an ancient mythology on the throne;(…)).  Obviously Nietzsche excludes himself from those elevating will to the cause exclusively at work in the universe.
When the neighbour’s startling burglar light strikes the Scots pine it looks like an ancestral tower.  The garden skyscraper.  Same old will.  The spiders stretch their tripwires from bush to bush – the tips of the Berberis and the rose are oddly tilted – but the will isn’t theirs.  Determined appearances are in this case most false – the determination is hiding in the spider.
The race of cave dwellers lived in Arabia Felix, on the African Red Sea coast – those children of Abraham mentioned by Flavius.  They were said to have lead the Turks down secret passages in times of war.  Borges uses all of these attributes (elements) in his story.  The narrator finds the semi-conscious stupefied troglodyte waiting for him like a loyal dog ready to lead him back out of the labyrinth away from the City of the Immortals.  The City was so perversely constructed so as to ensure a permanent noisome presence of evil in the universe, polluting past and future, even threatening the stars.  Somehow Borges hints that this City might be a parable for the City of London – especially the part around the Barbican.  The story starts in London – the frame is a manuscript found in a set of Pope’s Iliad sold to a Princess of Lucinges by an antique dealer.  The year is 1929, the year of the Great Crash.  The caves are in London too – the underground, the tunnels. 

4.  Fascist Communion

Nancy shows himself through the eyes of Bataille.  Bataille is an authentic witness of fascism – he lived through the distressing period, which Nancy calls the “mortal conflagration of ecstasy”.  In Nancy’s text “The Inoperative Community” - it is Bataille’s swaying one is led to see - between the “poles of community and ecstasy”, a rhythm dictated by an age in which these poles of transgression were what was then “being-in-common”.  In the course of this swaying, community and ecstasy and being change places frequently as another player – sovereignty - appears and disappears.      
Sovereignty in Bataille as one understands from Nancy’s reading of Derrida’s reading of Bataille is an intrusion from Bataille’s lifelong preoccupation (obsession) with Hegel’s master-slave dialectic.  Derrida refers to Bataille’s “unreserved Hegelianism” – considered by both Nancy and Derrida to be a weakness or at least a limit of his text.  Sovereignty is what prevents Bataille from quite completely abandoning or condemning the subject as ‘unreservedly’ as Nancy does.  The subject is sovereign – although at the same time “Sovereign is NOTHING.”. (“The Inoperative Community”, op. cit., p. 18)  Sovereign is the master – his truth though is finally the slave’s consciousness.  This was Hegel’s never-ending scandal for Bataille.  Community and ecstasy – is that one possible translation of slave and master?

Bataille’s eye only opens at his own peril – to see is to die.  The Medusa curse of consciousness.  Some of this danger hovers over Nancy’s text – or does he just set up zones where it might land without possessing the death-defying consciousness of the Hegelian master, but rather the consciousness of the self-preserving slave – so that the angel of death just passes over?

For Bataille ‘sovereignty’, if not superior to community – at least exists on another plane.  Out of an experience of disappointment with all “communitarian projects” of his time, the “betrayal of communism” and his “fascination with fascism” or “fascist orgiastics” – Bataille detaches sovereignty from anything ‘common’ and allots it to those living in “accursed isolation” – lovers and the artist.  Only they seem to be resistant to the fusion of community and its fascist orgy.  Here though ecstasy deserts community for sovereignty.  Sovereignty as embodied in the sovereign isolation of lovers or the artist is ecstatic.  “Now (…) it was impossible for him (Bataille sm) to link forms of sovereignty — or ecstasy — to the egalitarian community, indeed to community in general.  These forms — essentially the sovereignty of lovers and that of the artist, the one and the other and the one in the other set apart from the orgiastics of fascism, but also from communist equality — could not but appear to him as ecstasies (…) without any hold (…) on the community into which they nonetheless had to be woven, arealized, or inscribed, (…)” (Nancy, “The Inoperative Community” op. cit., p. 20)  Such a sovereignty of lovers and the artist seems to have survived at least as a fading memory in the relation of no relation postulated by Badiou as the amorous “scene of two” or in his designating art as one of the other four truth processes – similar to the truth processes science and love – at least these three potential loci of truth-events occur in antagonistic isolation from any sort of being-with.  Badiou unlike Nancy is precisely concerned with the unearthing of new subjects of truth – more or less corresponding to truth processes.  The 4th truth process – politics – seems to undermine though Badiou’s typology of ‘sovereign’ subjects – who is the subject of the truth of politics – the sovereign or the ‘community’? 
(see Spectres of Heidegger at Birkbeck, Faust Series Opus 9, 3rd August 2010)

It is not just Bataille’s swaying one sees in Nancy’s text – Nancy himself is suspended between the same two poles of community and ecstasy – never sure in which direction he is moving at any given moment.  He is like the Tarot figure of the hanging man – who hangs open eyed from his feet from a gallows – acutely cognizant (“the clear consciousness of the communal night”) of all his surroundings, but unable to come to a clear decision about the multitude of details presenting themselves to his upside-down fixed gaze.
“(…)the paradox of a thinking magnetically attracted toward community and yet governed by a theme of the sovereignty of a subject.  For Bataille, as for us all, a thinking of the subject thwarts a thinking of community.” (“The Inoperative Community”, op. cit., p. 23)

Why is being-in-common in Nancy’s sense antithetical to sovereignty?  Isn’t being-in-common already sovereign according to Nancy in that it is that entity to which ‘singular being’ is exposed or abandoned, just as it is to any other form of sovereignty except that in the case of being-in-common sovereignty presents itself directly as finitude?  Being-in-common is both that which presents itself in finitude and the ‘court’ – the law – to which being-in-common is presenting – where it has its “hearing”.  Community as law is sovereign toward being-in-common as finitude – passing judgement on finite singular beings.  Is the judgement of community as law not a subject?  A work?  Is that not an immanent circularity of being-in-common?     

In fact, it is a paralysis or circularity of thought, which Nancy is describing, (equivalent to his bizarre idea of an atomless clinamen), a motionless movement, a trembling standstill in the text – circling around something he cannot quite phrase (nor not phrase) – but alternately touching community, ecstasy, death, extermination.  In a kind of confession - he semi-discloses a chaste Christian lust for the fascist excess – what he refers to as fascist orgiastics.  Speaking of Bataille and “several others” Nancy refers to their “fascination with fascism inasmuch as it seemed to indicate the direction (…) of an intense community, devoted to excess. (…) Fascism was the grotesque or abject resurgence of an obsession with communion; it crystallized the motif of its supposed loss and the nostalgia for its images of fusion.  In this respect, it was the convulsion of Christianity, and it ended up fascinating modern Christianity in its entirety.” (“The Inoperative Community”, op. cit. p. 17) 

One wonders what that is - ‘fascist orgiastics’ – the granite blocks of party slaves at the Nuremberg Parteitag waiting with one bated breath for the word of ‘communion’ from their master?  That does not look like an orgy.  An orgy has to do with touching, saturnalia – the kiss and coitus of the masses.  The communal orgy must in some way mimic the joy of lovers.  Once again one of Nancy’s paradoxes exposes itself as the inner ressentiment of the text towards ‘being’ which would evade the law alias community, ‘being’ which is not abandoned to that law.  “Community is given to us – or we are given and abandoned to community: a gift to be renewed and communicated, it is not a work to be done or produced.” (“The Inoperative Community”, op. cit., p. 35)  And as such – this community, a gift, which you cannot even give back if you wanted to (although Esposito more a realist will speak of how to become immune to this gift) – has its ways of resisting what in turn resists its gift of itself: “Community is, in a sense, resistance itself: namely, resistance to immanence. (…) (resistance to the communion of everyone or to the exclusive passion of one or several: to all the forms and all the violences of subjectivity).” (ibid.)

“Lovers form the extreme though not external limit of community.” (“The Inoperative Community”, op. cit., p. 38) (Nancy imitates and undermines Bataille’s partiality for lovers).  But lovers in Nancy’s view merely demonstrate ecstasy for the benefit of community – they set a sort of standard of sharing between ‘singular beings’ (not subjects), which the community can easily appropriate.  This does not occur as a matter of course – but it is community’s potential.  Because although between lovers is where “ecstasy, joy touches its limit” – community is ecstasy – so lovers must be exposed to community or are its exposure of its own innermost possibility.  This is the node in Nancy’s text where he is most magnetically drawn to fascism or to ‘fascist excess’ as the alleged paroxysm of communion (“delirium of incarnated communion”, ibid.) – because in his view only in the fascist orgy can community become the lover of itself and at the same time touch itself as a community of lovers.  But what does this touching look like?  It is a touching of the limit.  Just as one is hoping to discover what the communion-orgy of the fascist masses might be – Nancy shies away from the transgression his text desires and drops back down into an image of a work, not of love: “Lovers touch each other, unlike fellow citizens (unless, once again, in the delirium of a fanaticized mass or in the piling up of exterminated bodies – wherever it is a matter of a work).” (“The Inoperative Community”, op. cit., 39)  In this parenthetical remark prefaced by “once again” the text folds upon itself revealing its abyssal trajectory.  The parenthesis contains (and segregates) the ‘groundless ground’ of community which Nancy conceals and reveals incessantly throughout his text – as if it mirrored his own process of thinking and unthinking of a thought: – that the “fanaticized mass” meaning the three-headed hybrid: the fusion - Nazi state-people-movement is what Nancy desires in community and that only in this extreme form can community realise its potential for communion - which is at the very least when ‘citizens’ touch one another.  But the only example he can think of is the touching of dead bodies or rather exterminated bodies (analogous to the Christian worship of the unique dead body of Christ) – whose inert existence came about as the ‘work’ of the communion.  The communion takes place not through the direct erotic touching of the community of itself or of the deified ruler but ‘sublimated’ through the communal touching of the communion’s erotic work of extermination.  This resembles a typical structure of perversion – as in de Sade’s “republic of crime” – the perverse entity constitutes itself erotically through the total appropriation and expropriation of the body – its own and the other’s.  Klossowski in his analysis of de Sade’s idea of ‘community’ discovers in his utopia of the limitless body a process quite similar to Nancy’s difficult and elusive concept of “compearing” (com-paraît):  “An inherent operation of the phantasy of the perverse is the abolishing (divesting) of property on one’s own body as well as the other’s.  The perverse operator inhabits the body of the other as his own and in this way communicates (apportions) his own body to the body of the other.” (Pierre Klossowski, “Sade und Fourier” in: Lektüre zu de Sade, Frankfurt, 1981, p. 224)  Except, in opposition to Nancy’s ‘compearing’, which is the sharing and splitting of singularities exposed in community - in de Sade’s perverse cosmos the abolishing of the limit (‘sharing’) between bodies is done on a strictly venal and pecuniary basis.

Nancy seems to retract and nullify his claim to have discovered the joy of lovers in ‘the delirium of the fanaticized mass’, which is Nazism – for community is, according to Nancy, above all else, not a work – it is inoperative or non-sacred transcendence.  He only allows himself to begin to speak of love, – the touching of the piled up exterminated bodies in the camps (those who pile up touch the bodies and bodies ‘touch’ one another in the piles of the death work) – but ends with “a matter of work” – thinking perhaps that the classification as work will immunize the thought against its own volupté.

It seems more ‘proper’ to say work in the context of the extermination act than love – although was it not the ‘work of love’ – the sexualized love of Volk and Führer which spawned the Auschwitz planet and its new idea of work embodied in “Arbeit macht frei”?  Although Nancy tries to displace work with love in his ideal notion of fascist communion – work inevitably asserts itself.  It is the simple resistance of the sheer economical nature of fascism to any contrived transcendence.  This despite the fact, that fascism is the spiritual ‘messianic’ other of capitalism – hence so precious for its survival.  Bataille grasped the intimate connection between a fascist ‘theory of value’ (its discovery of heretofore unknown sources/agencies of value) and sacrifice, death, excess of endless consumption.  They had for him a predominantly economic ring. 
If there is transcendence in fascism then only through work – but what kind of work?
The seminal Nazi Gestalt, its generic singleton, fixated in a work by Ernst Jünger, which so impressed Heidegger, was not the Lover rather the Worker. (Der Arbeiter - Herrschaft und Gestalt)

What then exactly is the “inoperative community”?  Besides revealing that it is not a work nor dedicated to any kind of production and that although not sacred but a sort of replacement for the sacred, Nancy does little to dispel the mystery of this loose appellation of being.  It is in any case a Being.  One can be forgiven for not quite understanding – not even Agamben who ploughs the same furrow can say much more than - “The only coherent way to understand inoperativeness is to think of it as a generic mode of potentiality that is not exhausted (…) in a transitus de potentia ad actum.” (see Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer, Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Stanford University Press, 1995, p. 62)  Why then say “inoperative”? – if this does not mean broken or obsolete at the very least it is a kind of idleness – perhaps an expectant one – but not one in which one does anything in particular which might become a ‘subject’, one only undoes – is it a mode of potentiality of the end – a kind of waiting for the end or a community towards the end?  Or a readiness as in ready-to-hand, awaiting a work which cannot yet be conceived.  Is this work-to-come perhaps Heidegger’s “Ereignis” (final event or appropriation)?  That is why the community still bears work in the negative sense in its name – a cancelled work but one, which could be renewed at any moment.  Still, it is not just a defunct artefact of abandonment – although one is abandoned to it.  Nancy hints at what the unworked work of the inoperative community might be – or rather what sort of work will resist being unworked even in the inoperative community.  This appears in a footnote appended to the claim: “Communication is the unworking of work that is social, economic, technical and institutional.” (“The Inoperative Community” op. cit., p. 31)  It is not though the unworking of “the political”.  The footnote contains a clue to the provenance of the “inoperative community” – it is a being with a particular openness for the political: “I do not include the political here.  In the form of the State or the Party (if not the State-Party), it indeed seems to be the order of a work.  But it is perhaps at the heart of the political that communitarian unworking resists.” (“The Inoperative Community”, op. cit., p. 158)  Why does the political suddenly appear in the midst of community, supposedly merely the locus of fraternal sharing, now the order of a work of a State or the Party?  What State-Party might he be referring to – certainly not the Communist Party?  Nancy with typical Heideggerian Bauernschläue (peasant slyness) seems to have hidden the purpose of his seemingly purposeless communication-community in a footnote - it is the base for a political eventuality– one whose potentiality includes a State-Party.  The “inoperative community” is not just an anodyne being-in-common – it is a coming State – an existing one would hardly need to ‘resist’, it already is.

Is communitarian resistance Nancy’s form of anti-capitalism? Or is it rather ‘fascinating fascism’ - which habitually assumes this guise?  Fascism cures the state for capitalism, another aspect of its being the hypocritical other of capitalism, its negation and fulfillment.  Negation means the immanent negation of capital within itself exported to the fascist plane of the political.  Here capital disguises itself in the character mask of political theology – in its time of regeneration (palingenesis) or healing in political ecstasy (outside of itself) it assumes the characteristic messianic face of fascism.  Capitalism abandons itself in the ‘political’, which is fascism, as if it were in hiding from itself until the necessary purgative time of negative reproduction is completed. This is the night of Bataille’s ‘la part maudite’ of the general economy - when capitalism must go to the archaic roots of all expenditure for its rejuvenation in blood.

“The Inoperative Community” shares the same thinking expressed in some of Heidegger’s later writing on the future of “total mobilization” after the “interruption of the myth” caused by the defeat of the Nazi State in 1945.  Faye in his analysis of Heidegger’s writings – Beiträge zur Philosophie and On Ernst Jünger has deciphered in them a vade mecum of Heidegger’s political ‘instructions’ for posterity:  “If we had the least doubt about what is really going on in the Beiträge, a passage from his recently published writings, On Ernst Jünger, would dispel it.  In a series of paragraphs grouped under the heading “The Question of Truth” (Die Wahrheitsfrage) and subtitled “Truth and figure” (Wahrheit und Gestalt), we can now read the following. “The attribution of rank is the total representation of total mobilization (for the passive, active, and dictatorial types)(the many, the few, the unique).”
This time, Heidegger shows his hand.  The conjuration of the three circles exposed in the Beiträge isn’t a triad of ideas but the concerted and clandestine activation of a power directed toward the historical advent of a dictatorship. (…) Heidegger continues, in the Beiträge, to hold to his interpretation of Jünger’s “total mobilization” which he conflates with the Hitlerian and dictatorial relation between Führung and Gefolgschaft.  It is true that what Heidegger describes in the Beiträge forms an invisible and apparently idle community, a silent conjuration.  But its purpose is to prepare and wait for the unique time and place at which the “people”, assembled according to and by means of that invisible community, will be able to found their “truth”, whose law they will enforce over the whole Western world, or even the entire earth.” (Emmanuel Faye, Heidegger, The Introduction of Nazism into Philosophy, Yale University Press, 2009, p. 281)

Heidegger’s “invisible and idle community”, the “silent conjuration” of the faithful would appear to surprisingly illuminate the enigma of the “inoperative community”.  At least it serves as a striking precedent for such a thought of community in waiting. 
The “political” could be regarded as the ‘code’ in Nancy’s text for the thinking of such a ‘risorgimento’ of a fascist State-Party-People.  The inoperative community would be the cadre (Bund or ‘the few’) in whom this return is continuously inscribed in being and the ‘law’ to which the submissive many are abandoned.  Presumably ‘the unique’ would eventually arise in it too.  In great contradistinction to the founding era of fascism in the twentieth century – the ‘post-modern’ fascism of the “inoperative community” does not seem to have any one particular territory nor ‘metaphysical people’ – it is nomadic, anonymous, headless, deterritorialised like the ‘multitude’ – it is a kind of Luft-fascism.  The Luft-fascism of today has only one tangible ‘homeland’ as yet - in its writings – its “Grab in der Luft” (“grave in the air”, Paul Celan, Todesfuge - Death Fugue).  “The outline of singularity would be “political” – as would the outline of its communication and its ecstasy.  “Political” would mean a community ordering itself to the unworking of its communication, or destined (emphasis sm) to this unworking: (…) To attain such a signification of the “political” does not depend, or in any case not simply, on what is called a “political will”. (…) it implies writing.  We must not stop writing, or letting the singular outline of our being-in-common expose itself.” (“The Inoperative Community”, op. cit. pp. 40-41)

Nancy’s coy love of fascism and its annihilation of the subject known as ‘fascist communion’ is a love, which dare not speak its name.  One can almost hear Bataille laughing. 

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