Monday, 9 April 2012

Self-Assertion of an English Garden (After-Life Topoi of Nazi Desire) Chapter 1

1.      Il faut cultiver notre jardin
2.     Pêcheurs de lune
3.     Iterability of the Nazi State (Economy of Genocide)
4.     Growth (and Form/Morphe)
5.     Decay
6.     Pompes Funèbres
6.1.  Type (Model, Example, Tupos)
6.2.  Usus Tyrannus (Interlude)
6.3The Ageing of a Note
7.     Critique of Beginnings
8.     Demonology of Defeat

1.      Il faut cultiver notre jardin


For some reason I’ve begun to feed the roses and tend the garden more than before.  Not for ‘some reason’, but of course because of the season and also a kind of drive to assure they flower bountifully this year.  Then I remembered – the advice of the husbandry-and-plantsman Voltaire, “il faut cultiver notre jardin.”  At night when one walks around the neighbourhood amongst the towering monochromatic hulks of sheer plant vitality unredeemed by the spot of colour given off by blossoms and flowers – one is reminded that gardening is not a luxury or an expensive hobby – but only the prettied up side of the human fight against the takeover of space and breath by all the vile plants just waiting to spring up like the endemic malaria in the Pontine Marshes or Campagna Romana around Rome – the moment one stops cultivating the garden.


The moth that flies in at night I see crawling in the form of a dry parchment coloured leaf outside of the kitchen door.  What a supreme awareness of self:  to know one is safest around dry brittle leaves.  Because one is indistinguishable from them.  The only difference is in the self-moving locomotive property of the moth.  The moth is far inferior in its movements though to the way wind or breezes could move a leaf.  Here mingled with ‘instinct’ is the dangerous deluded pride of the moth.  It thinks it is the equal of wind.  Dilettantish amateurism is also in nature.   
Only because of the Strindbergian groundless attack on my person – a man nearly crushing me with his car against a brick wall on Meadowside footpath – I must report the immense appearance of the ‘slow worm’ – slithering over the garden hose, mistaking it for its big brother.  I bend down very close to it – seeing the darting tongue and the snakeskin with the shoe-like markings on its head.  A very endearing crawler.  Our tame snake on the patio.  But utterly wrong in its instincts of mimicry – it thought it was safe around that green coil of striped hose. 

How is it that a stationary organism from the plant kingdom – a fir tree – can mimic an organ belonging to the animal kingdom?  How is cross-kingdom mimicry possible?  And what for?  I saw a penis tree – really long dark almost black red ribbed phalluses (more of a Negroid type perhaps?) hang in bunches of three or four, maybe even in double rows, from fir tree branches, covering the tree from top to bottom.  It was breathtakingly grotesque, like an ancient Attic fertility totem - a Geschlechtsturm, a phallophoric monument.  The tree or penis tower stands in a back passageway next to a quasi-derelict telecommunications enclosure.  A broken down red pillar shaped telephone cell somewhere in the vicinity – all the glass in the many small windowpanes has long since been smashed.  I don’t know what kind of tree it is – but its virility in the narrow alley where it takes you by surprise is overpowering.  The penis cones were darker than the ‘usual’ colour – or a hue I haven’t seen before.  Only my second thoughts were about ‘castration’, ‘decollation’.  

[Strange omen-like correspondence to Derrida’s Hegel-Genet piece, Glas: the flower is the phallus, as in Our Lady of the Flowers – but also the guillotined friend – the “glass” (the silent inverted bell, the chalice, the hemlock cup) is full of poisoned milk i.e. sperm I think – by chance I noted the smashed glass windows next or near the penis tree (the seed is spilled – vision of Onan?) – a tree which grows penises, the big flower; Hegel’s “Phallic Tower of India”, the “religion of the flowers” and deflowering come from two different passages in Hegel (from the Aesthetics and Phenomenology of Spirit), the germ of Derrida’s Glas.  The “penis tree” is a hybrid from both.
The transition (rite de passage) from the “religion of flowers” to the “animal religion” is from innocence to guilt.  Genet’s ‘trick’ – the flower (of innocence) is the penis.  Here Derrida binds him to Hegel.  The religion of flowers is also the religion of the flowering (erecting, ejaculating) penis.  The innocence of the religion of flowers, like in Proust, is consciously spoiled, desecrated, blasphemed with animal guilt.
The material world (Materie) is just a scattering of clues (or scene of the crime) for ‘spirit’.  Baader calls materia the dungeon of spirit, which has become evil.  Evil has its residence but not its origin in materia – spirit is sequestered there but for protection from its own evil.  “The devil is like an insane criminal who wants to break out of his dungeon and throw himself at the gibbet, but it is this dungeon alone (materia) which softens the devouring fire.” (Baader)
Spirit speaks to itself through materia; materia hears itself (Glas) through spirit.]

The counter-revolution predates the revolution (it is older even if it comes afterwards) – because the counter-revolution is that which the revolution comes to overthrow.  It is the overthrown overthrower.  It always has the most time.  The revolution should look like a counter-revolution.  This is the best disguise.  A kind of transvestitism of the counter-revolution.  “Revolutionary theory is now the enemy of all revolutionary ideology and knows it.” (Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle, Detroit, 2005, §124)

After drifting in and out of an oneiric, dreamless flu, by ‘chance’ I stopped Alain Resnais’ film La Nuit et Bruillard at a scene of a huge pile of spectacles with the subtitle “they saved everything”.  I turned back now to Agamben’s The Coming Community (Minneapolis, 2007) – a chapter called “Shekinah” – he begins with Guy Debord – “Capitalism in its final form, he argued (…) presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles, in which all which was directly lived is distanced in a representation.”  The pile of spectacles in Auschwitz is a ‘real’ material representation of a way of killing and the photograph taken by a clerk of the killing was a representation of that representation.  “They saved everything” records an anthropological reflex extrinsic to the prime business of mass murder – a kind of aboriginal senseless frugality within excess.  An oikonomia of relics.  A retentional gene.  Or does “saved everything” (the word, the act, the photograph as a relic of the relics and the act of ‘saving’ and itself an act) connote a ‘religious’ impulse, a kind of material ‘salvation’ of things and thereby of self?  Even a ‘premonition’ of defeat in which the first and only command is “Sauve qui peut!”  Or is it a homesickness in the midst of one’s own repetitive acts of murder for that seemingly forbidden paradise of ‘safety’.  Is the mass-murderer who unmakes the world, ‘worldliness’ in which the victim could ever be safe – allowed to desire for him or herself ‘safety’, in other words ‘immunity’?  Is evil truly radical if it desires those accoutrements of holiness, of religion – such as salvation, being saved, being safe, Derrida’s “indemne”?  “Is not the unscathed ‹l'indemne› the very matter—the thing itself—of religion?” (“Faith and Knowledge: The Two Sources of “Religion” at the Limits of Reason Alone” in Acts of Religion, New York, 2010, p. 61)  Heidegger was still thinking of some kind of ‘saving’ in his last Spiegel interview of 1966 – when he famously uttered the oracular warning “Only a God can save us.”  Shouldn’t he have rather said – not even a God can save us?

Instead of representation one could substitute participation in Plato’s sense of methexis – or the sharing of the thing with the idea of it.  Methexis comes from the participation of the lower in the higher – the photographic partakes of the world of the camp or in a Heideggerian mode – being takes part in Being.  The photograph shares with the camp its logic of appearing as an in-between state. 
Cavell’s ontology of film The World Viewed implies a ‘logic of appearing’, which reflects Heidegger’s interpretation of the Platonic methexis – the photographic image participates in the Being of world – like beings participate in Being.  Quite simply the photographic makes the world appear – not as representation but as participation.  The photographic object communes with the world appearing in it – the photographic makes the World (or Being) appear.  It also preserves that world – as if eternal in that moment of the ‘shot’.  The world ‘dwells’ in the photograph forever at it was at that moment – never to be more or less.  The photographic is a ‘common place’ of the world as it was at the moment the photographic image first participated in Being.  Just as Being is a ‘sparing and preserving’ (Heidegger), a dwelling or as Heidegger writes in Introduction to Metaphysics – Being is ‘constancy’ (Ständigkeit) or ‘presence’ (Anwesenheit) – the photograph is the ever-present presence of the world with itself as it appears in the photograph.  How could a photograph ever be absence?  Or only if it were a photograph of the supernatural – like certain legendary examples of photographs in which the unphotographed face of Christ or some other blurred ghostly appearance is subsequently detected.  The ‘thing’ like the commonplace – the community (cum-munus) – is a ‘donation’ of being – Being gives to being which is itself – so that what is – has already taken something which it must always try but will never be able to give back. 

When I say – the heap of spectacles is a representation of a way of killing – I should have rather said – participates in the Being of that world of killing – making it appear just as the photograph participates in that participation.  Heidegger discusses this Platonic relation of participation of beings in Being in What is Called Thinking?.  As the Germans were making a world disappear (in their acts of extermination) they were compelled to make that disappearing ‘appear’, to preserve the appearing disappearing in the photograph.  Although these acts were nameless, unnameable – they could not remain image-less, hence the Nazi obsession with the photographic as evidenced by the various photo albums including the “Auschwitz Album” they compiled of their mute world of extermination.  But it was not just the phases of genocide, which they recorded on film – the SS were tireless in preserving images of themselves within their kingdom of extermination - of every gesture and pose, as when SS Helferinnen (female auxiliaries employed at Auschwitz), sitting like a row of “Tiller-Girls” on the fence railing of the terrace of the SS holiday chalet at Solahuette near Auschwitz, turn over their bowls to show they have eaten all their blueberries, an accordionist serenading them the while; other scenes of formal and casual socializing of high ranking SS officers in their retreats and hunting lodges, ceremonial, inspection of the works, SS officials in full regalia just standing next to camp buildings or studying documents together in the sunshine.  Although photographically the two worlds were mostly kept strictly separate, occasionally the identity of this officious SS dominion and the locality of their singular ‘work’ shows up in the image.  For instance, in one of the many photographs of the opening dedication ceremony of a new SS hospital in mid September 1944 one sees in the background a white sign mounted on two white posts between which a soldier is standing.  The inscription under a cross says “SS Lazarett Auschwitz”.  On the other side of the entrance drive is a solid brick gatehouse.  In another photograph of the gatehouse, a very tall thin SS officer (possibly August Harbaum the adjutant to Richard Glücks, Chief of the Inspection of all Concentration Camps) stands apart and turned away from the rest – his hands are folded over his groin, one booted foot in front of the other and the knee slightly bent, his head bowed and gaze intent on the ground as if looking for a non-existent flight of stairs.  The ceremony marked the “Übergabe” (handover) of the documents and authority for the completed project from the construction department to the camp administration.  Another photograph of the same ceremony shows a delegation of nurses in immensely starched uniforms and white pinafores grinning self-consciously in the company of much taller rather seedy looking SS grandees.  One of the nurses is wearing a pair of massive knee high riding boots of the same kind as the SS officers – her full nurse skirt and petticoats cover their tops– giving a fleeting impression half a man is hiding underneath them.   (See Hoecker-Album, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, online)

The dedication of the new brick complex probably left so many photographic traces, because the SS satraps would have seen it as the beginning of a greater permanence amidst their sprawling SS province of mostly one story wooden barracks.  The hospital was located at the entrance to Birkenau (Auschwitz-II) – the actual “Vernichtungslager” (extermination camp) where the trains arrived with their victims from all over Europe, site of the “selection ramp”, gas chambers and crematoria within the Auschwitz complex.  It seems a strange choice for the location of a ‘real’ SS hospital – one could imagine the smoke and the fumes and the noise penetrating into their compound.  Was this an unconscious act of homeopathic medicine?
On December 26th 1944 the SS Lazarett at Auschwitz was bombed by an Allied sortie.  Two weeks later the SS started evacuating Auschwitz.  While it lasted, ‘the photographic’ gave their reign an immediate semblance of longevity.

The distinction between ‘participation’ and ‘representation’ is inscribed in the Christian concept of koinonia or participation in the Eucharist – Corpus Christi – represented by the Church.  Koinonia means “common place” – and figures as such in Aristotle – Paulinian theology diverted this sense to the Christian paradigm of being united from above as “brothers in Christ”.  A Christian participates in the body of Christ but is represented together with this body by the Church.  The theological roots of Cavell’s ordinary film-philosophy show especially in his emphatic use of the concept of participation.  But participation in what?  Esposito reflects this Christian participation from the perspective of his notion of community as a “constitutive lack”.  He anticipates the ‘sacrificial structure’ he will find in Heidegger’s concept of Mitsein, in the Paulinian theology of Christ as “gift”.  We start our mortal lives in the infinite debt to God for his “gift” of Christ – this is a transformation of the ancient munus – the debt to the community.  Each mortal debtor (sinner) enters into this prenatal ‘given’ of this holy ‘gift’ – with no hope of ever being able to give enough in repayment.  The union of debtors is then the community in Christ.  Like in poorly managed ancestral estates – we inherit not wealth but only debts.  The sacrifice of Christ is the ‘gift’ given us by God – we are ourselves “given”, “born from a gift”.  This is the first munus to which we must respond with a corresponding gift – but our giving is inadequate – withdrawn at the moment of its being given (The God-gift that we are).  “This gift-giving [donativo] inflection of “participation” restores to the Christian koinonia all of the expropriating drama of the ancient munus; what one participates in isn’t the glory of the Resurrection but the suffering and the blood of the Cross (1 Cor. 10:16; Phil. 3:10).  Any possibility of appropriation is diminished; “taking part in” means everything except “to take”; on the contrary, it means losing something, to be weakened, to share the fate of the servant, not of the master (Phil. 3:10-11).  His death.  The gift of life, offered in the communitarian archetype of the Last Supper.” (Roberto Esposito, Communitas The Origin and Destiny of Community, Stanford, 2010, p. 11)  The gift of death is equal or the same as the gift of life for this Christian participation in the “communitarian archetype” – or the archetypical participation in the Christian community.

Cavell’s ‘film-theology’ of participation of being in Being reflects an ordinary reading of Heidegger and community (American “neo-communitarianism”) – one based on community as a common ‘property’ rather than an originary ‘debt’ or lack – although the forced participation in a common property of debt (public debt) is a foundational proposition of bourgeois law, property relations and tax regimes. (Germany, post Versailles-Treaty, was stylized in the propaganda of the “conservative revolution” as such a ‘community of debt’, Schuldnernation, the ‘unfair’ debt of the war reparations.)  Essential to all such discourses of community and participation is “ownership” – the “semantics of proprium”.

Community defined as belonging, founded in whatever ‘property’ in common, whether it be land (territory as in Carl Schmitt), blood, race, destinal properties of a Volk (as in Heidegger) or any other value (negative or positive) cannot evade this positive nexus – what Cavell identifies as an “undying dialectic” of “the relation between self and community”. (Stanley Cavell, The World Viewed, Cambridge, 1979, p. 138)  The dialectic of belonging (participation) inheres not just externally in that property or value self and community own “in common” – but that the self ‘belongs’ to the community (shares ownership of itself through the community) and vice versa.  Upon these premises of “belonging” and “appropriation” all sorts of fictions of representation and participation ensue.

It is precisely this dialectic, which Esposito intends to dismantle. (See Communitas, ibid., p. 3)  

Heidegger extends the “semantics of proprium” to the most intimate liaisons of being – thinking is the property of or “belongs” to or is “propriated” by being (Sein).  As he remarks in the first edition of Letter on Humanism the enmeshments of property or what he calls
“(…) “Ereignis”, “event of appropriation” has been the guiding word of my thinking since 1936.” (See Martin Heidegger, Letter on Humanism, translated by Frank A. Capuzzi, in Pathmarks, 1949, PDF online, p. 241)

Not only does thinking ‘belong’ to being, it is that which “listens” to being – and is also in being as in its “element” – that which enables it (Vermögen).  Vermögen means both ability (power) and great wealth, assets, property.  Every “appropriation” is at the same time an “expropriation”.

Thinking listens to being as to a master or as Heidegger says “essential origin” – and mimicking the structure of munus – being’s enabling of thinking as of its own – is the “gift” of thinking’s “essence” bestowed on thinking by being.  Being assumes the role of a divine benefactor – loving or favouring thinking upon which in a “destinal manner” it bestows its (thinking’s) essence as a “gift”.  For this favour then “the human being” must repay its master by being “the shepherd of being”. (ibid., p. 252)

Being’s hold on thinking, its “appropriation” of thinking is both absolute and circular– because, thinking is nothing but the thinking of being.

In keeping with the Heideggerian presumption that Nazidom is the true heir of ancient classical Greece, Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy credit “German tradition” with giving a novel twist to the meaning of methexis, going further even than Plato.  “(…) the German tradition adds something to the classical, Greek theory of mythic imitation, of mimesis—develops, very insistently, something that, in Plato for example, was really only nascent, that is, a theory of fusion or mystical participation (of methexis as Lucien Lévy-Bruhl will say) of which the best example is the Dionyssian experience as described by Nietzsche.” (Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy, “The Nazi Myth” Critical Inquiry 16, University of Chicago Press, Winter 1990, p. 302)  German-Greco methexis, is for the authors, mystical participation in the construction of the “Nazi Myth”. 
In Nancy’s case – his “Nazi Myth” of Grecoid mystical participation and fusion leads directly to the “Inoperative Community”. (See “Spectres of Heidegger at Birkbeck” 3rd August 2010; “Undoing Clinamen (Of Community)” 10th September 2010, at Faust Series Opus 9, online)

Another word from the same root as methexis is metöken-metoikoi – travelling merchants who came in to the polis, people from in between, but often achieving prosperity.  They might also be aliens or foreign settlers – more usually though merchant capital – neither here nor there.  In Plato methexis means the relation between the empirical thing and the idea or model – as if the relation between thing and idea were itself an entity – reflecting those travelling merchants – between the countryside (the empirical lower regions of unfree life, oikos) and the polis (the idea, the higher regions, bios politikos).  Heidegger, ever commandeering the ancient Greek world, even its geography, to the service of Sein – defines our “In der Welt Sein” (being-in-the world) almost exactly as if we in our being-in-the-world were like those semi-aliens flowing in and out of the polis from the outskirts, but more between both than in any one place. “(…) our being-in-the-world (In-der-Welt-Sein) is exactly an “inter-being”, as “being-between” “in the in-between” of a commonplace.” (Martin Heidegger, “Building, Dwelling, Thinking” in Poetry, Language, Thought, New York, 1975, p. 149 cited in Esposito, ibid., p. 91)  Methexis is no longer a relation it is a place between places. 

Tarkovsky’s destroyed rooms in which unrecognizable things and all manner of shreds pulsate/throb/vibrate/quiver in a silent cacophony are all tributes to the revolution – and all of its destroyed overturned rooms.  In Eisenstein’s October one sees the desecrated rooms of the Bolshevik headquarters after the triumph of the counter-revolutionaries.  Copies of Pravda float on the water of the River Neva under the monumental drawbridge – a dead white horse ripped away from the carriage it was pulling when the bridge parts lifted hangs suspended over the water from one half of the raised bridge.  Finally falling down into the water – sinking together with the white pages of Pravda

Entr’acte: Birthday Omen 22nd April 199..

In the house where the couple Baynes-Thornycroft met the ‘mirror’ couple Lawrence-Richthofen with potentially fatal consequences:  P. shows me a photograph of Lenin in a room which could have been a model for our room, telepathically in anticipation of the book I was about to give him with the title Russian Houses – chairs draped in sheets, a leather sofa, the table too high.  The omen is written down on the back of a scrap of red foil wrapping paper emblazoned with a primitive horse’s head cut out of green foil and has been inside of the book ever since.  “Show me Lenin in a room and I’ll show you fear in a handful of dust.” 

The ‘Miracle’ of the Garden

Looking back into the history of our love of the garden in the “Garden Book” – I find the thought of the enchanted garden.  The garden like the enchanted forest doesn’t allow you to leave it.  Kurosawa’s interpretation of Macbeth, Throne of Blood has Macbeth and Banquo frantically riding around such a forest – the “forest of cobwebs” – until they meet a crone spinning the threads of fate in a kind of bamboo cage. She foretells their future.  Only then could they find their way out of the forest.  A forest or garden does not have to be beautiful to be the location of fate.  Is our neglect or disaffection with the garden an unconscious attempt to break its spell, its enchantment?  The premise: if the garden is no longer beautiful it will cease to enchant us (hold us as its prisoner) and we shall be able to leave.  This is a false premise.  A neglected or unsightly garden with noxious overgrowth and naked bare patches (these go together) does not hold you less tightly in its spell.  Enchantment has nothing to do with the appearance of beauty.  An ugly garden or piece of land can hold you in its thrall just as tightly if not more so.  Why this is – I can’t yet say.  Just as the visage of rulers is often extremely ugly – all the more do they thrill and seduce the masses.  But as in Bunuel’s Extermination Angel – rather go back to the beginning or prehistory of the enchantment – to the beautified land – and hope to find the exit there.  Exit through the past of the garden.  It is the inverse of the hope Kleist expresses in “Über das Marionettentheater” – one might return to a state before sin, re-enter paradise through the back door.  Instead, one has to restore the decayed garden – like giving the gold back to the mountain in Traven’s Treasure of the Sierra Madre – before the telluric forces will allow you to depart.  Perhaps this will also finally break D.H. Lawrence’s “blood and soil” grip on our souls – as he seems to have deposited some of his evil tentacles in this orchard where he sat writing Schnorrer letters in ‘writer’s corner’ before leaving England for good.  Whilst in this house Lawrence also corresponded with one of his benefactors, the Russian translator S.S. Koteliansky about a translation of a text by Shestov called in English “Anything is Possible” – besides beginning an affair with the owner’s wife Rosalind Thornycroft-Baynes.  Rosalind was the daughter of Hamo Thornycroft, the Victorian sculptor, and first cousin of the English poet Siegfried Sassoon.

Sherlock Holmes had a dread of the English countryside.  Where Watson saw bucolic splendour and quaint dear homesteads, Holmes envisioned true fiendish criminality lurking behind all those trim hedges.  The vilest alley in London was safer to his mind than any of those isolated scattered houses tucked away in the rolling hills. 
“ “Do you know, Watson,” said he, “that is one of the curses of a mind with a turn like mine that I must look at everything with reference to my own special subject.  You look at those scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty.  I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of their isolation and of the impunity with which crime may be committed there.”
(…) “They (the dear old homesteads) always fill me with a certain horror.  It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.”
“You horrify me!”
“But the reason is very obvious.  The pressure of public opinion can do in the town what the law cannot accomplish.  (…) But look at those lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law.  Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places and none the wiser.”” (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches” in The Complete Sherlock Holmes, London, 1993, p. 323).  Holmes could just as easily have been referring to the typical English public school, often located each in its own hundreds of acres in the same remote countryside.
The countryside starts anywhere after five miles from the nearest city.  “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches” takes place in an isolated country house five miles outside of Winchester.  The owners draw in young ladies as governesses who must satisfy their eccentric ‘whims’ of dress and hairstyle.  The pay is too good – so the temptation to make certain sacrifices is irresistible.  In “The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb” unsuspecting hydraulic engineers are lured to a house six miles into the countryside outside of a Berkshire village.  A gang of German coiners has ensconced themselves in a big old house.  A hydraulic pump needed for their minting process is installed in one of the rooms and needs attending periodically.  The engineers who come to service the pump are of course sacrificed.  Only one survived – minus a thumb.  

The garden embraces you with its thousand entwining arms – you cut off one, ten spring up in its place.

(Neighbours reported that the garden of Bin Laden’s secret compound in Abbatobad, Pakistan was in a state of severe neglect.  Perhaps if he had cultivated his garden, he might have been able to leave it alive?  The law of the garden.)     

Four Examples of Absence

“The difference is not between city and land, garden or desert – but between the eye and the eye – what one sees from a distance and what one sees up close.  Is it the melancholy of truths seen from a distance (Lucretius)?  Where is or what is ‘the place’?  Certainly all of that and more.  Is this then the ‘absence of place’, which is ‘the place’?”

1. ““Dans l’Orient désert…” (“In the deserted Orient how despair consumed me…”  Racine, Bérénice, I;4)  One should be in the wilderness.  Because, the one whom we should love is absent.”
(Simone Weil, Schwerkraft und Gnade, München, 1989, pp. 150-1)

2. The set of things happening now is not happening now.  In this way time is refuted.

3. Another reflection to what is “not now” or “not happening now” – the anticipation of happiness of everlasting life in Christian dogma is happening now.  Anticipation happens now, but happiness does not happen now.  This is a source of pain and discouragement as for example the poet-monk G. Manley Hopkins admits in his “Retreat Notes”: “January 2 1889: There is a happiness, hope, the anticipation of happiness hereafter: it is better than happiness, but it is not happiness now.”  Despite his anticipation of happiness in the life to come he is very unhappy now (in the now of writing).  He loathes himself, sees himself as wasting his time/years in Ireland – “All my undertakings miscarry: I am like a straining eunuch.”

4. Plotinos describes our inherent trust in the future as a source of our discontent with ourselves as we are now, in time.  The absence of our presumed bettered future selves now propels us towards the future in which we will again be discontented – only in the contemplation of the future from the present do we have some sense of our completeness.  The future and the condition of time originate in this absence of ourselves in the present.  We look towards the future to fill the lack, which we are now – this brings about time and future. (Cited in Schopenhauer, Parerga und Paralipomena I, Fragmente zur Geschichte der Philosophie, Zürich, 1988, p. 66)

This might explain the tendency of writers to want to be judged on the basis of their unwritten works.


When a historical epoch is killed off (axed) by another historical epoch (for instance the epoch of class warfare between bourgeoisie and proletariat), then its anachronistic “wrestlers” remain behind (live on) as formal emblems – or as ‘emblematic corpses’ – as allegory (Benjamin).  They are lovers who perished in a tragic accident.  Tristan and Isolde.  Neither of the wrestlers triumphed – the bourgeoisie with its cult of ‘the private’ is adrift in an infinite public sphere whose centre is nowhere and whose circumference is everywhere.  The proletariat has been erased from the ring as if it had never been there – its haecceity abolished.  But the ring, its memory and a whole world of feeling have disappeared too.
The new epoch has no name – class warfare cannot be determining it.  In the nameless epoch there is no struggle between recognizable opponents.  That is why the epoch is so poor in drama. 

Blumenberg’s Error

One can tell that Blumenberg never had a garden and was unaware of its perils – that’s why he could so sanguinely assume Epicurus was avoiding risk and danger of the wilderness by staying in his garden.  He even implies that Epicurus – most lucid and self-sufficient of the ancients – would have attained his ‘ataraxy’ by fooling himself about the gods.  As if he still clung to them somehow even if they were ‘between the worlds’ – and this illusion gave him the confidence to remain in his garden.  The fiction of the gods supposedly tempered his “absolutism of reality”.  How could one imagine that a philosopher who observes of his fellow creatures and indirectly of himself – “30. Some gird themselves their whole lives for life and do not notice, that all of us had the deadly poison mixed in to birth.” – would be assuaged even by his own myth.  His credos were overcoming of fear and overcoming of desire – both fear and desire are forms of slavery.  Epicurus was in the Socratic tradition in this regard – Socrates is known to have said looking around the agora – how many things there are here that I don’t need.  He could have equally said – whatever I need, it is not here.  (Marx still bases his early critique of capital in the 1844 Manuscripts on this ancient ascetic concept of freedom from desire – capital in the universal form of the commodity and the spectacle is a machine for engendering false unnecessary desire to distract from unfulfilled necessary ones.)

Blumenberg must know this – but he is a stubborn ‘realist’ in other words a falsifier: He claims quite baldly: “(…) part of the concept of ancient atomism was that it saw ‘accident’ as an opportunity, at least for those who knew how to avoid the risks of nature and remained in his ‘garden’ rather than going out into the wilderness.  The selection of the garden as the home of Epicurus’s school was not an arbitrary one.” (Hans Blumenberg, Work on Myth, Cambridge, 1985, p. 13)  Even if one would assume for argument’s sake that Epicurus was ‘avoiding risk’ by remaining in his garden – one would at the same time be assuming that Epicurus would have voluntarily curtailed his freedom of movement – hence his innate freedom on grounds of safety.  This is totally unGreek – the Greek philosopher and gentleman was not just striving for life but for the ‘good life’ meaning above all freedom.  Ancient freedom meant also freedom of movement.  When one confines oneself even to a beautiful space one is not perfectly free – and not even safe. Blumenberg himself concedes that man is a flight-animal.  Why should a philosopher confine himself to any space – thus forfeiting his ability to escape?
Does Epicurus in his garden lead the ‘good life’- practicing that antique virtue of courage and disdaining philopsychia or excessive clinging to life?  Was it ‘more’ than life – beyond mere necessity of sustaining life?  More – in a garden – is beauty without use.  A vegetable garden is probably not the ‘good life’ – but a rose garden is.
By remaining in his garden – Epicurus might have missed the experience of the crowd – whatever crowd there was in his time  - the agora.  The crowd is the experience of the multiple, the many, of number.  Although Epicurus’ discovery of atomism – the infinite identical many of the particles of matter - shows that his imagination of ‘number’ did not draw on the crude empiricism of the crowd.  In one of his sayings he marvels at how he as a finite mortal nature with limited time could have ascended through his studies of nature to the heights of limitlessness and eternity and thus could survey “past, present and future”.  But Epicurus also attracted many pupils to his garden – and each other person is a world of danger – each other in the garden is a wilderness.  

As to the safety or non-safety of the garden – there are countless testimonies to its being decidedly unsafe.  Was even the Garden of Eden safe?  From its safety came original sin and the fall of man – death, pain and work.  Besides the danger of agoraphobia, which befell for, instance the Scottish artist Ian Hamilton Finlay– so that he was no longer able to leave his “Little Sparta”.  (Baynes’ father, also suffered from agoraphobia.  When he rode to London – then only in a coach with drawn curtains.  Certainly when he bought “The Myrtles” what is now our house and garden, in the middle of World War I for his son Godwin, the Jungian psychoanalyst and assistant of Jung in Zürich, – he did so also because of its walled garden.) 
But more essentially – Blumenberg’s error of the safety of the garden is an offspring of the bourgeois myth of the security of property – or of the ‘private’ per se.  As everyone knows, the worst accidents happen at home.

The ancient voice of authority speaks against the delusion that private gardens and the “regime of private affairs” (Benjamin) are safe and hermetically separate from the public realm.

In Book XI of his annals Tacitus describes the sudden demise of the praetor Asiaticus who was then owner of the garden still named after Lucullus.  The vast garden of Lucullus in ancient Rome – on the Pincian Hill, then on the edge of Rome, led, during the rule of the emperor Claudius, to one death sentence of forced suicide, a suicide in fear of a death sentence and the murder in anticipation of a death sentence of the schemer behind the first two deaths.  Plutarch reports that Lucullus’ gardens, Horti Lucullani, in the Persian style were considered one of the most impressive properties in Rome.  Lucullus was known to his contemporaries as “Xerxes in a toga”, for his vast wealth and ostentatious life style brought back from conquest in Asia.  Asiaticus the praetor even added to the splendour of the park – so that Messalina, empress and wife of Claudius, coveted it.  She was also jealous of the Roman lady Poppaea Sabina.  Combining both passions, she incited the notorious delator Suillius to bring an untrue accusation against Valerius Asiaticus to the ears of Claudius – he was accused of adultery with Poppaea Sabina the Elder, a crime punishable by death.  But the accuser, as was wont in such instances of denunciation, also elaborated upon the threat to the emperor posed by such a powerful, well-connected and wealthy man whose reputation had already spread to the provinces.  Asiaticus was brought to Rome in chains from the resort Baja – and without even being allowed to appear in the Senate – tried in his bedroom in the presence of Messalina.  Suillius embellished the accusation with charges that Asiaticus bribed the soldiers to commit all sorts of paid fornications – and that he even offered his own body.  This last accusation provoked Asiaticus into breaking his silence – exclaiming: “Just ask your sons, Suillius, they will testify that I am a man!”  While the trial was taking place in the bedroom, Messalina sent her people to Poppaea Sabina who so terrorized her with fear of the dungeon, she took her own life.

After a self-defence which seemed to touch Claudius deeply and even brought tears to the eyes of Messalina – subtle pleadings from Vitellius, another favourite of Claudius, seemingly in support of Asiaticus, but only to obtain the right for him to choose his own way of death – Asiaticus as Tacitus writes – performed his usual physical exercises and sat down to his meal in high (hilare) spirits.  He then opened his veins – but not before giving instructions that his funeral pyre should be moved to another spot so that the smoke would not cause the shade trees of his park to suffer.  Tacitus suggests the garden exacted a kind of poetic justice, or was it simply its ‘curse’?  Messalina’s own adultery conspiracies caught up with her.  While Claudius was away from Rome in Ostia, she ‘married’ her lover, the young handsome designated consul Silius, publicly in the garden and they spent the night together in conjugal freedom.  Shortly thereafter she celebrated a wine harvest festival in her palace.  Tacitus implies that this was a bacchantic orgy. Women in animal furs danced like frenzied maenads.  Messalina appeared with flowing hair, swinging the thyrsos staff (the pine cone tipped staff sacred to Dionysus) and at her side Silius crowned in ivy. They walked around on cothurni (see Tacitus, Annals, Book XI 31-33).
Her flagrant transgressions are more than enough to set her own downfall in motion.  She tries to plead with Claudius – riding towards him on the road from Ostia in a cart full of garden waste.   
Although Claudius is still under her spell – his retinue decides her fate for him.  Claudius’ favourites and freedmen corner her as she weeps on the ground in Lucullus’ garden where she had retreated during the scandal – and without an official order from the emperor – decapitate her when she is unable to stab herself.  After Messalina’s death Claudius marries his niece Julia Aggripina, which opened the way for the eventual succession to the throne of Aggripina’s natural son Nero.

Voodoo Garden or Orchard of the World

We bowed down to the big laurel tree in the front for 17 years or more – never imagining that the land underneath its teeming branches ‘belonged’ to us.  Now the tree is more or less cut in half – like the lady in the circus act.  The backside is shaved away to free up a whole swathe of grass-to-be.  The same liberation took place in the rear garden – the meadow bamboo is ripped out.  We shall have a ‘croquet lawn’ instead.  Plants can possess a chunk of land in such a way that they paralyze your ability to think or see it any other way.  Until one day you notice that they are not just growing upwards and sideward, but are swallowing all the space around them and the light from above becomes more and more indirect.  The earth around them is impenetrable because of their roots – as wide as the crown as one knows.  The movement in the garden or rather our shaping of it seems to have a kind of levering (loosening) effect on our own local ‘roots’ - we are slowly unearthing ourselves from the land.  We operate on our souls by operating on the earth – and sometimes it seems as if what we perpetrate in the garden – our experimentum mundi – has all sorts of repercussions in the wider world.  Is this a kind of homothetic magic or the Wu Wei doctrine of actionless action?       

Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard is just one of the many ‘old orchards’ in his stories such as “House with Mezzanine”.  “(…) To the right, in an old orchard, a yellow hammer sang a faint reluctant song, and he too must have been old.” (Anton Tchekhov, Plays and Stories, translated by S.S. Koteliansky, London, 1962, p. 278 – Lawrence corresponded with Koteliansky, from the ‘old orchard’ at the “Myrtles”.) 

The second old apple tree departed for Tree-Hades or wherever dryads and other tree spirits go – perhaps even into the ‘vertical grave’ right underneath its branches.  In Glas (Derrida) or rather in Genet in Glas – there is much about a vertical grave and also all kinds of metaphoric entwining of lianas and vines as a mimesis (origin?) in the plant world of homosexual positions.  One thinks also of Rodin’s mythical scultpures of lesbian “flowers” and “metamorphoses”.  More scientifically – Proust discovers a Darwinist (Ruskinian) logic in the couplings of Monsieur de Charlus and Jupien, expounding on the continuities between insect-flower reproductive processes and human homosexuality.  Charlus enters the Duchess of Guermantes’ courtyard at the same time that a bumblebee heads towards one of the duchess’ orchids; Charlus, “whirring like a bumblebee” moves towards Jupien who takes root like a plant.  It is not only a morphological contiguity, but also a felicitous duplicity of contingent events.  (Derrida interpolates a long quote from Genette’s “Metonymy in Proust” devoted to this scene, pointedly interrupting a soupçon of botanical wisdom about algae as belonging to the cryptogams – “one of those plants that hide their sexual organs.” (Jacques Derrida, Glas, University of Nebraska Press, 1986 pp. 186-187)
Not to forget the narrator’s first erotic ‘virginal’ love for the flowering white hawthorn bush (l’aubépine) – one of the most obscene undercurrents of à la recherche du temps perdu
In the non-metaphorical stochastic garden the vegetative zoological entanglements just look and feel like a prickly mess. 

The Sign of the S

I spotted our totem, our mascot of the garden, the golden snake – basking in grey light on the stone of the faux patio under the trellis structure of clematis and roses.  Performing a variety of S’s.

Fairy Tale Weeds

We were fooled into thinking that the big furry velvety green leaves nestling against the rose Cerise Bouquet in the rear of the garden were incipient foxgloves.  On the other side of the secret door underneath the nearly sterile evergreen rose Mermaid are foxgloves that are already flowering.  The big leaves that can only grow bigger and never flower are probably Great Burdock leaves – the kind under which those generations of snails sheltered in Andersen’s fairy tale of the house and the big garden, where the owners were no longer in residence.  (A big house without servants turns quickly into a slum.)  The older snails tell the younger ones about days gone by.  Fairy tale weeds we say have to be really big.

Sitting behind Sweet Cicely weeding – nearby is a big frog or toad.  And in a bucket full of rainwater is a dark hulk floating on top, black as the bucket and water – a dead blackbird on its back.  The smell near the Sweet Cicely is intoxicatingly sweet – it lightens up that black corner of the Gallica rose bed.  The sweet and the morbid and the rose.

Plants of Solitude

On the other side of the river is Eastfield Lane, our local “Sunset Boulevard”.  The late B-movie director Bernard Vorhaus cultivated very big leafed plants and other botanical marvels in his woodland garden at the end of it.  His garden is no more, neither is his cabin with the mirrored sliding doors in which the river traffic and our side of the river were reflected as in a Nature-Kino.  Somewhere near the power station between the now non-existent Vorhaus garden and the toll bridge is a brick bungalow mostly boarded up and looking abandoned, building material strewn about a swampy front yard, where in a ruin of a flower bed nothing much is growing but a wonderful clump of red hellebores and next to it a white one, in full blossom. 

Indoors I (The garden is the indoors of the outdoors or the outdoors indoors.)

The destroyed room is a relative of the degraded object favoured by Kantor as an aesthetic object – or is the destroyed room itself an object of objects as in multiple of multiples? – The aesthetics of degradation is not possible in Badiou’s art/truth process – this is what he rejects in Rimbaud.  (I think my objections to Badiou are largely to his implied aesthetics – who cares about his politics or ethics etc.)

Badiou believes in clean science – slow and positive.  As opposed to the ‘soilure of poetry’, Rimbaud’s paradise of the latrine.  But Beuys and Franko B for instance are artists of ‘dirty science’ – as patient or impatient as the other kind.  They expose medical science’s roots in medieval clysters, in exorcisms and Inquisition and Auschwitz – the supplier of torture bodies and torturers.  Auschwitz type laboratories and Lager (camp) scenes shine through many of Beuys’ works (Lagerplatz 1962/66, Vor dem Aufbruch aus Lager I 1970/80) – often in a jumbled state as if just now hastily abandoned.  An installation simply called “PainRoom” is a large empty gallery room in Düsseldorf whose walls and ceiling have been totally covered with radiant lead, a material which muffles any noise or screams, and prevents them from escaping to the outside (SCHMERZRAUM, Galerie Konrad Fischer, Düsseldorf, 1983).  Beuys is said to have been inspired by the infamous lead chamber of the Doge palace in Venice - where Casanova was imprisoned and from which he escaped.  A more likely inspiration is the Nazi gas chamber – the penetrating glare of the only fixtures, a naked light bulb and two silver rings on either side of it, fixed to the ceiling – one the circumference of an adult head, the other of a child’s head – immediately arouse the visual association of the ‘shower room’.  Beuys would have certainly known the (post-liberation) photographs of the low ceilinged box-like gas chambers with their characteristic walls stained blue from Zyklon B gas – the shadings of the lead in his SCHMERZRAUM simulate/mimic the stains.  The old Nazi instinct of camouflage (Tarnung) dies hard – although the motto of the piece is more revealing of the original of which Beuys ‘cell’ is a romantic idealized copy – “behind the bones will be counted” (Hinter den Knochen wird gezählt) (See Karin v. Maur, “Joseph Beuys und der “Christusimpuls” in: Joseph Beuys, Skulpturen und Objekte, München, 1988, pp. 45-55). 
In one of the glass cases in Beuy’s permanent exhibition (‘Beuys-Block’ from the Ströher collection) in Darmstadt, Auschwitz is not just the invisible unnameable presence - ‘in the air’ – a copy (facsimile?) of the architectural plan for a part of Auschwitz still under construction lies folded, almost hidden amidst/under wax, honey and fat objects and rusty instruments, fossilized Blutwurst, the ubiquitous shape of entrails and other unidentifiable organic and inorganic detritus painted in Beuys’ typical colour of dried blood – ox-blood red.  Beuys continued sketching on the Auschwitz Lageplan – adding some improvements in his own hand.  (The Lageplan also illustrates the cover of the English translation of Agamben’s Homo Sacer.)
And when the experiments are over – ‘rabbit science’ and its victims are buried/recycled in the “Rabbit Grave” (Hasengrab 1962/67).
Science and not just religion or ‘biopolitics’ has its origins in pain and torture and sexual bodies.

In a shot in Rossellini’s Rome, Open City, when the Gestapo couple (the commander and his ‘procuress’) move to the higher stage of interrogation called “the psychological method” – this involves an injection – the camera shows the dirty hands and fingernails of the torturer.  One recoils at the uncleanness of the syringe in the midst of ongoing mutilation – but the man won’t live long enough to die of infection, so why bother with proper hygienic and antiseptic procedure?  Patient clean science versus impatient unclean poetry is a flawed opposition.  When one considers Primo Levi’s ‘lab work’ in Auschwitz or the experiments on prisoners in Mengele’s laboratory block, one wonders how Badiou can still trumpet the “promise of science” against Rimbaud’s poetry as “the promise that should not be kept”.  “The promise of science is monumental and can only be captured in the gigantic poetic arch of a Hugo.  The headlong rush of Rimbaud’s poetry towards the question of the event and the caesura is not made for raising monuments to the progress of spirit.” (Alain Badiou, “Rimbaud’s Method”, Conditions, London/New York, 2008 p. 83)  Why should poetry though correspond at all with science and its ‘progress’?  Or if it does – why not with a science of abjection?  Teratology?  Science fiction deals with nothing else.  Badiou’s heroic view of science is distinctly, curiously pre-modern.  Even the Victorian mind of H.G.Wells could better conceive a Rimbaudian science such as that practised on “the island of Dr Moreau”:                 
Là pas d’espérance;
Nul orietur.
Science avec patience…
Le supplice est sûr.
(“No hope is left;/ No sun rises. / Science with patience/ Torture is sure.” Rimbaud, Fêtes de la patience: L’Êternité: Festivals of Patience: Eternity)

Indoors II (Representation of Auschwitz: Lageplan)

The architectural plan – the topos of futurity – what does the plan represent?  Does it represent?  It is a diagram of what will or should take place in the place – the representation before the place takes place.  It is a diagram of will and a ‘world of will and representation’.  Is it an image of will or an object or both?  To represent this prospective representation (the plan) is to go back to the time before the place took place – it is a ‘recherche du temps perdu’ – to show what it was before it was – to circumvent the representation of what was by arresting time/history at the representation of what will be.

The Lageplan of Auschwitz displays linear clarity giving the impression of industrial resoluteness – as if the acts of genocide (that which itself ‘forbade representation’) would take place in solid buildings.  But the ‘blocks’ were mostly one-room huts – more like oversized outhouses – one might think a block would be an imposing structure.  In Primo Levi’s camp there were 60 blocks – which means 60 huts, ten of which were under construction. The 200-250 prisoners living in one hut could not all stand in it at the same time.  But mis-representation was immanent to ‘super-representation’ (Jean-Luc Nancy) – the name crematorium enclosed all of the final three stages of genocide within it – the undressing room, the gas chamber (‘Brausebad’:Showerbath), the crematorium itself.  It was in fact one location.  Giving the act of murder the name of the last step – the burning of the corpses (the crematorium) – Nazi camp terminology sequesters the unfamiliar act of gassing within the familiar burial method of cremating.

The inclusive name crematoria for the whole process of murder – is also a vestige of the evolving nature of the procedures.  The first gas chambers were gutted and converted brick cottages.  In 1943 the cellar morgue of an existing crematorium at Auschwitz-Birkenau was converted into a gas chamber.  The subsequent crematoria complexes were custom built to house all parts of the killing process.

Photographs of the arrivals taken by SS-Hauptscharführer Bernhardt Walter and his assistant SS-Unterscharführer Ernst Hofman (“Auschwitz Album”) show structures/topologies better described as sub-linear ‘heap structures’ – the luggage of arriving victims.  Their belongings and their suitcases turn into overflowing mountainous heaps on the bare earth and rubble.  The work of the “Aufräumungskommando” (order commando) was a favourite subject of the SS photographers Walter and Hofman.  In one of countless photographs of this ‘gathering’ of the confiscated property of the murdered victims, female prisoners are sorting shoes in a sloping pile so high and wide – that one can just see the eaves of the warehouse behind it.  The shoes had belonged to a transport of Hungarian Jews from Carpathian Ruthenia.  The date of the photograph is May 1st 1944.  These heaps were solidified and codified in the camp warehouses – ‘Canada’ – from whence they were distributed through a vast network to individual, institutional and economic recipients in the Third Reich.  Bodies and their belongings are metamorphosed into circulating goods.

Beuys was puzzled or troubled about how to represent Auschwitz – it could not be ‘translated into any image’.  He chose the ‘real’ (?) Lageplan instead.  Finally, he said, nothing short of a re-enactment or the event itself would have really satisfied him: “In a 1982 interview, Joseph Beuys speaks of Auschwitz as “that which cannot be represented, that awful image, that which cannot be presented as an image but which could only be presented in the actual process of its happening, while it happened, which cannot be translated into an image.” (cited in Jean-Luc Nancy, “Forbidden Representation”, in The Ground of the Image, Fordham University Press, 2005, p. 46)
Beuys’ perplexity is in keeping with what Nancy sees as the characteristic limit of ‘Nazi art’  – which, he says, is a super presence, like Auschwitz itself; this also means the utter lack of any quality of abstraction, invisibility, negativity, of a beyond-itself, what in the wake of Mallarmé one calls the ‘hors-lieu’ (outside of place): “The supreme Nazi art can therefore involve only an incarnation or a real incorporation (…)” (Nancy, ibid., p. 39) (What ‘art’ does he mean – “Lili Marleen”?)

The untranslatable image Beuys is longing for is not ‘representation’ but ‘participation’ in the Heideggerian-Cavellian sense – without perhaps realizing it.
Is Beuys’ art apocalyptic or foundational?  Is Auschwitz the apocalypse or is it the foundation of authority, law – for the western metaphysician of today?  Agamben appropriates the ‘Muselmann’ as an allegory of the mystical Void (as opposed to the mystical Fullness of sovereignty) – a Baroque allegory in a style counterfeited from Walter Benjamin.

In the text “Forbidden Representation” Jean-Luc Nancy has attempted by means of a highly circuitous route through the history of the concept of representation in Western metaphysics and art theory – to inure the reader to the ‘normality’ of Nazism and its regime of extermination.  Normality somewhat akin to the football matches between members of the prisoner Sonderkommando and the SS in the intermission between gassings - (a testimony from Primo Levi’s The Drowned and the Saved quoted in Giorgio Agamben, Remnants of Auschwitz, New York, 1999, p. 25).  Agamben comments upon this macabre football match “at the gates of hell” (Levi): “I, like the witnesses, (…) view this match, this moment of normalcy, as the true horror of the camp. (…) If we do not succeed in understanding that match, in stopping it, there will never be hope.” (ibid., p. 26)

Suddenly one is not considering Nazism and Auschwitz from the point of view of the history of genocide – but of Nancy’s idiosyncratic unfolding of representation in Western art.  Auschwitz by crude extrapolation has already become to his mind – a work of art to be examined for its place and innovations in the history of representation.  Auschwitz as the apotheosis of the Nazi entity ‘represents’ according to Nancy a curious ‘mutation’ of representation, which he denotes as “super-representation”.  “Super-representation” is actually not different from representation – except that it means, for Nancy, the representation of the super – the ‘type’ of the ‘man regenerated (via Nazism) to super-man or in other words the “Aryan super-man”.
“The figure of the “Aryan” is the very principle of this vision; it entails nothing less than the presentation of man regenerated as super-man.  I propose that we call this regime “super-representation” (…)”(Nancy, ibid., p. 38)  Nancy fails to offer a clear distinction between representation and super-representation – the form does not change just because the content is now dressed up with a superlative.  Even more circular is his designation of the Aryan as the ‘subject’ or ‘representative’ of his own ‘representation’.  His philosophical authority for this is no less than Adolf Hitler from whom Nancy develops his own syllogistic definition of what he proposes to name “super-representation”.  It is actually Hitler who is the inventor of the term “super-representation” which Nancy offers as his own: “ “The Aryan alone can be considered as the representative [Vertreter] of the race of the founders of civilization.” (quote from Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 318 sm).  “Civilization” here, has no other meaning than the conformity of a world to its representation.  The Aryan is the representative of representation, absolutely, and it is in this precise sense that I propose the term “super-representation”. (Nancy, ibid. p. 39)

It is often difficult to disentangle Nancy’s own words from those of Hitler’s Mein Kampf from whom he quotes copiously.  For instance in a passage depicting the Jewish people as the destroyer of culture (Kulturzerstörer) he also lists as their faults: “(…) instrumentalizing the misery of modern workers—thus giving rise to the Marxist vision, which does not even merit the name of Weltanschauung (…)” (ibid.,40) – only at the end of the paragraph without any quotation marks does one learn in the endnote that the whole passage comes from Mein Kampf

One could simply see super-representation in Nancy’s terms as a synonym for the Absolute – the Absolute in Nancy’s version of the history of Western metaphysics alias representation - is now Auschwitz.
Is it the aporia of Western metaphysics à la Nancy for which Auschwitz assumes the form of the absolute (‘speculative Auschwitz’) – that the act, in which, what Nancy calls “super-representation” (the representation of the super type “Aryan super-man” by himself) physically annihilated what he delimits as “non-representation” (the Jew), ended in the ‘interminable’ non-representability/non-representation of that supreme act?  In other words – Himmler’s ‘prediction/prophecy’ (or was it rather a statement of fact/knowledge?) to his administrative SS staff – that their murders will be “a page of glory in our history which has never been written and which is never to be written” has come true?  (Writing stands for image or representation of any kind.) Himmler’s ‘prediction’ is the prediction of no prediction – of what will not be.  Instead of representation – “There is image (…) of a haunting and with it comes the knowledge that nothing of the camps can be represented, because the camps themselves were the execution of representation.” (ibid., p.47)  Just as one had begun to think one had understood Nancy’s argument – that in the camps super-representation executed non-representation – when he turns again to proclaim, on the contrary, what was executed was representation.

No matter how he equivocates - super-representation exhausted itself in its one act of representation – to forever disappear into non-representation.  Auschwitz could not survive itself.

The irony of Nancy’s “super-representation” – Nazi authentic being – what it saw as its one most essential ‘presence’, the extermination of European Jewry and the total economic exploitation and ‘devouring’ of their material and bodily existence – was conducted in the most fragmented, shadowy, obscured, camouflaged and geographically isolated fashion – denied and concealed in the midst of doing.  The best disguise was the ‘self-deceptive’ ‘hiding in the open’ – quasi-surreptitiously using the organizations of administered life, the economy and the technology of the Third Reich to convey Jews to the ‘death camps’ whilst at the same time these monoliths of representation were the screens (substance) behind/in which this conveyance was hidden.  How then does this calculated operative furtiveness conform with Nancy’s contention that:  “(…) this character of total, saturated presence, (…) the systems and processes of Nazi super-representation (…): the Nazi order, its Führer, its Aryan archetype, the SS and the entire Weltanschauung cannot simply shine with glory, they must be present and with a complete presence.  The point here is decisive: this entire order refers to nothing outside of its own being-present, its immediacy or immanence.  Finally, it refers to nothing outside of its own conspicuousness, one that emerges from itself (like the truth for Spinoza) (…) In one sense, it is an exact replica of the monotheistic revelation, (…) Nazi super-representation is the inverse of revelation: it is a revelation that, in revealing, does not withdraw what is revealed but, on the contrary, exhibits it, imposes it, and fills every one of its fibers with presence and with the present.” (ibid., pp. 39-40)

If this were so, surely Auschwitz like all other aspects of the Nazi revelation would not resist representation, as it appears to do.  Nancy cannot resolve the logical dilemma of his own perverse and contradictory defence of the Nazi order and the ‘immanent logic’ of its acts of extermination cum ‘super-representation’. If it is super-representation, immanence and immediacy – it represents all its manifestations, its substance, automatically and instantly anywhere and at any time.  It simply is – as Heidegger would say.  Such a ‘super-representation’ corresponds not so much to ‘revelation’ or ‘vision’ but to the norm – “total saturated presence” is what Badiou would call “the situation (…) saturated by its own norm, when its self-calculation is relentlessly inscribed in the norm, and when there is no longer any void between knowledge and prediction, (…)” (Alain Badiou, “The Philosophical Recourse to the Poem”, Conditions, London/New York, 2008, p. 41).  At such a moment – for the event to be named (represented) – it is necessary to be receptive to the poetic “outside-of-self” – an idea Badiou discovers in an “intimation” of Celan.  The ‘outside-of-self’ though is ontologically proscribed for the Nazi entity – according to Nancy.
It has ‘executed representation’, even annihilated “the very possibility of representation” (ibid., p. 29) in and by the act of its most climactic raison d’être, its apotheosis of ‘presence’ and ‘spectacle’ - its ‘death camps’ – at Auschwitz and all the other countless camps and sub-camps and ghettos throughout Germany and Europe.  Once again Nancy’s argument comes up against the limits of ‘the Real’.
But why should ‘super-representation’ be compelled to abolish itself purely from the ‘inside’?  Like some sort of metaphysical spontaneous combustion?
Far from being the pure immanence of Spinozist substance, by its nature conserving its essence, as Nancy insists,  – referring to “nothing outside of it”, – the Nazi extermination-entity is forced to sacrifice its modalities of substance – thought and extension (representation) – reacting/corresponding only to non-represented power from the forbidden outside of it. 
[Commentary: According to the German film director Harun Farocki – cinema is stymied, even repelled, by the factory.  The factory is missing or ‘unrepresentable’ for film – being what Marx calls in Capital – the hidden abode of production, necessarily out of sight of the circulation sphere.  But even if it were to be seen – the value produced there is itself invisible – it is only captured in the measure of time and social productivity (abstract homogenous human labour) and only first realized when sold in the circulation sphere.  Ironically, the first film ever shown in public was the Lumière brothers’ Workers Leaving the Factory – the factory itself was their own factory in Lyon for photographic products.  A factory for the production of the means of making images is the parable or allegory of the impossibility of representing the factory cinematically, of making it ‘visible’.
As Auschwitz was in part conceived as a factory of extermination, that peculiar Nazi sort of production - perhaps Nancy is mistaking the ‘non-representation’ of the Jew for the non-representability of Auschwitz itself qua factory?  Nazi ‘super-representation’ was conversely intent on forcing extermination to be representable via photographic documentation.  They photographed themselves and the individuals they were in the act of removing from representation – by means of the Nazi extermination of the Jewish people.  They sought to preserve photographic traces of this work – in those unique images of unearthly heaps of shoes, hair, gold teeth, spectacles, suitcases etc, - which they were otherwise forced to deny or conceal.  But this particular once and for all removal from representation in the extermination camp, the production site of permanent unrepresentability, appears to have now invaded all of reality – “as a ‘nomos’ of the Modern” (Agamben).  It is a sort of measure or denomination of infinity in this world.  It is not Auschwitz, which is unrepresentable – it is infinity.]

Nazi ‘super-presence’ was the presence of the absence/lack of presence – amounting to an unfulfilled lust for ‘complete presence’.  And as the Russians approached in November 1944, Himmler – quite pragmatically, rationally – ordered the destruction of the crematoria at Auschwitz. 


There are crosses everywhere in Beuys’ works – also in his ‘battery’ and ‘aggregate’ pieces – Blutwurst worms are carved with crosses, a pack of yellowing newspapers is tied with thick string and painted with an ox-blood red cross, the ‘crucified’ news.  Beuys inscribed a popular Italian reproduction of Christ of the flaming heart with the words – “Christ the Inventor of the Steam Engine’.  It is one of his didactic pieces, expressing his theory of the identity of Christ and science, Christ the source of energy, inventor of the third law of thermodynamics (the law of absolute zero), of electricity, heat and its transformations.  He marked another copy of the Auschwitz Lageplan with blood-red crosses simulating the ‘energetic’ ‘stations of the cross’ as part of a Studie zum Auschwitz-Denkmal (Study for the Auschwitz Monument), 1963.
Christ is energy; sucker up of energy, user of energy, and the god-king of absolute entropy.  He uses up the energy and warmth/heat of mankind.  Badiou sees Rimbaud’s ‘Christ’ in this light – Christ wastes human energy – mankind is a sort of windmill – churning out energy for the light, the light bulb of Christ.  Christ steals energy which we would have needed, says Badiou, to keep “the choice of universes open indefinitely, of maintaining the tension of the undecidable.  Since for this opening, we have need of undiminished force, of an energy that exposes us to eternity.  When Rimbaud exclaimed: ‘Christ! O Christ eternal thief of energy’, he designated the power of powerlessness, or the temptation to seek consolation.” (“Rimbaud’s Method”, Conditions, ibid., p. 80)   

The Polish artist Balka, shows the mystified ‘material’ equation of Christ=Electricity/Energy in an architectural Cross-piece in São Paulo.  He constructed two intersecting corridors (cloisters) in the form of a cross in front of the museum on the sea front.  At the entrance of each corridor, where the ‘wounds’ of the body of the crucified Christ would have been – is an electric fan.  He explains the metaphoric logic of this symbolic structure:  The ‘wound’ refreshes like a sea breeze.  The building faces in the direction of the wind coming off the sea.  But that this wind – the electric and the ‘natural’ sea breeze – is that force which refreshes the wound – or is itself the energy machine offering up its power to the symbol of the wound – lies outside of his thought or plastic medium. 
The late Victorian poet Swinburne revolted against this Christian logic of the perpetual energy drain in the verse: 
“Thou has conquered, O pale Galilean; the
       world has grown grey from thy breath;
We have drunken of things Lethean, and fed on
       the fullness of death.” 


Kabbalistic axioms of the hidden (Nistar) and the revealed (Nigleh):

1. Any place is a hiding place if you don’t look or if it won’t be looked at.
2. Don’t go too far (or further than you need) on your way from the hidden to the revealed.
[Commentary: In Raymond Chandler’s The Pencil – the Jewish gangster thought he’d hide from the mob in their own town, Las Vegas, but they’d thought of that too.]
3. Hiding Places do not equal Escape.
4. The hidden (Nistar) must always be far greater than the revealed (Nigleh).
[Commentary: The submerged part of the ship is the hidden (Nistar) – the total mass is made up of the hidden and the revealed.]
5. Who knows what happiness is or unhappiness? Call injustice unhappiness and substitute justice for happiness.  Don’t try to define it.  Go from negative to positive.  One only knows the positive through the negative.
The positive is the hidden (Nistar)!  The negative is the revealed (Nigleh)!

[Commentary:  Did Carl Schmitt’s ‘method’ in The Concept of the Political stray into the ‘Kabbala of the hidden and the revealed’
or has it rather been infiltrated by it?  Answering his critics in the preface to the 1963 edition, he defends his method of ‘starting from the enemy’ with a juridical ‘logic’.  “The objection claiming I give primacy to the enemy concept is a quite generally widespread cliché (allgemein verbreitet und stereotyp).  It fails to understand that any development of a juridical concept (jede Bewegung eines Rechtsbegriffs) issues, by dialectical necessity, from negation (aus der Negation). (…) A trial qua legal action is conceivable only once right has been negated.  It is not a fact (Tat) but a wrongdoing (Untat) that penal action and penal law pose (setzen) at their commencement (an ihren Anfang).” (cited in Jacques Derrida, The Politics of Friendship, London/New York, 2005, p. 153)  
Schmitt with his apology rather weakens his doctrine of the enemy.  The enemy is not an Untat, a wrongdoing; the enemy is the force, which summons him, the counter-enemy into being.  Here he is at the limits of his own ‘logic’ – or rather where his theory of law cannot be bent into a theory of the political, in other words, war.

Speaking in a Schmittian ‘voice’ - an act of auto-ventriloquism - Derrida rephrases Schmitt’s “correct method” in The Politics of Friendship:
“I insist first of all on the enemy rather than the friend, and this is proper strategy because it is correct method.  Should I have to start from the friend, as you invite me to do, I would first have to provide its preliminary definition.  Now, such a definition would be possible only in reference to the opposed term: the enemy.  I must therefore start from this oppositional negativity, hence from hostility, in order to attain the political.  ‘To start from the enemy’ is not the opposite of ‘to start from the friend’.  It is, on the contrary, to start from the opposite without which there is neither friend nor enemy. (…) There is no space, nor is there any place – neither in general nor for a thought, for the definition or for a distinction – without the real possibility of war.” (Derrida, ibid., pp. 152-153)
The hidden (positive) is the friend, the political, in Derrida-Schmitt; the revealed (negative) is the enemy, absolute war (hostility).  In a semi-causal sequence the negative ‘where I start’ ‘precedes’ and ‘attains’ the positive – except in neither Schmitt’s method nor Derrida’s paraphrase of it is there any trace of the ‘hidden and the revealed’.]  


Bad is so much more than haunted.  Haunted means only dead – but bad is death in life, something irretrievably spoiled, irreparably tainted, incurable, corrupted, a finality of the most absolute nature, in this life.  This sort of badness is easily inherited.


“The fate of insects is not less important than the revolution.”
Rosa Luxemburg

English monarchists and lovers of the English monarchy worldwide are like the oak processionary caterpillar.  They too like to follow one another in long processions to the crown – the caterpillars march up to the crown of oak trees where they feed on its foliage.  The caterpillars infest all the surfaces they touch – especially oak trees – but also beech, hornbeam, birch in the case of a scarcity of oak.  Such species show that the processionary instinct is not just in humans – it comes from the animal world – in particular insects.  Another processionary caterpillar is the pine caterpillar – found predominantly in Spain.  They march to the tops of pine trees for purposes of feeding and later form a migratory procession to a burial site where they bury themselves as pupa until they hatch in the coming summer.  Both sorts of processional caterpillars cause severe skin and respiratory diseases in humans and their pets  – transported especially via the tiny hairs of the larvae.
“They travel nose to tail in a line.”  The wedding procession is a particular intensity of procession within the general processional landscape.  The maid of honour follows the bride, carrying her tail of cloth, beckoning with her own tail to all the others who should follow her.  The nose-to-tail procession continues on line in all the followers who must continue to do so at a distance on Facebook etc. 
Processional termites in Asia forage in mass processions of soldiers and workers (two of the three pillars of service to the Führerstaat noted by Heidegger in his “Rektoratsrede”).  Hospitalitermes hospitalis.  One hears the etymological proximity to hospitality of hostis – the termites invite themselves to their act of foraging.  The world is their host and their enemy.  Instinct though tells them that the world’s largesse is not for free – a special squad of chemical soldiers accompanies the procession of termites spraying poisonous gas from a cranial spout to ward off predators.  The termites graze on lichens and tiny plants high up on the trunks of trees.  The procession moves horizontally across the forest floor and vertically up trees – the axis of the plebs and the rulers.  The human processionary does not just feed on hosts; they infect the world with the processionary habit itself, the worst disease of all.

If conformism is the social face of mimesis (imitation) – a kind of instinct – like the army ant syndrome, then as long as the species exists and imitates whatever species’ trait or habit it had once established, that habit and the species will continue to exist until the habit kills off those who practise it.  Then the habit is left but the species-operators are gone.  

In this incestuous processionary nest waddled in white silk on the river everyone is working voluntarily or involuntarily for the Crown.  I suppose I am too – without knowing it of course.

Badiou is in another sense a processionary – he is the champion of numbers.  Numbers are Ur-processionaries: the model in abstracto for all the processionals in nature.  One number follows the next in long columns and all the gaps in between as in Zeno’s Paradox.  A number never steps outside of itself except to enter another procession.
What is a continuum but a fractalized procession (Hegel’s “bad infinity”)?  Is that why according to Badiou numbers are in charge of being?  Is Being processionary?  There is a fictional order and a fictional rank – just as there is a natural order and a natural rank.  Novalis says that mathematics does not have infinity “out of itself” (aus sich heraus) – it gorged itself on infinity.  “Eine W[issenschaft] gewinnt durch Fressen – (…) So d[ie Mathematik] z.B. durch den gefressenen Begriff des Unendlichen.” [“A science gains through feeding – (…) So mathematics for instance through having gorged itself on the concept of infinity.”, Novalis, Das Allgemeine Brouillon, Hamburg, 1993, p. 28]

If Wittgenstein had trouble with negative propositions, then some of his interpreters have even more.  Three Anglo-Saxon positions on consciousness:
1.  The mystery of consciousness – something separate from brain processes. 
2.  No mystery of consciousness – it is identical with brain processes.
3.  A secondary question – is there an unconscious or not?  Does it matter?
The author of a Wittgenstein dictionary cites a passage from Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations in an affirmative sense:
“There is no gulf between consciousness and brain processes.”
A philosopher writing in Time Magazine cites the same passage from Wittgenstein in the opposite sense:
“There is an unbridgeable gulf between consciousness and brain processes.”
In the original passage – paragraph 412 of the Philosophical Investigations - Wittgenstein observes: “The feeling of the unbridgeability of the gulf between consciousness and brain process (…)” (“Das Gefühl der Unüberbrückbarkeit der Kluft zwischen Bewußtsein und Gehirnvorgang (…)”)  He does not really decide or resolve the question in any way – he speaks of a “feeling”.    

Later though in the text (whereby later is a euphemism for a paragraph with a higher number – there is an abyss from paragraph to paragraph in the Philosophical Investigations from which all bridges are apriori banned by logic), Wittgenstein refers to another more appealing gulf – one which he identifies more energetically – the gulf between command (Befehl) and the obeying of the command (Ausführung).  “Paragraph 431.  Zwischen dem Befehl und der Ausführung ist eine Kluft.  Sie muß durch das Verstehen geschlossen werden.” (“Between the command and the obeying of the command is a gulf.  This must be closed by understanding.”)  
How is that closing possible?  Surely there is a difference between carrying out an order or orders and the total relinquishing of your will to that of another.  Absolute obedience would be the bridging of the gulf between command and its execution and something more - entering a state of quasi vassal bondage (Hörigkeit) or worse.  Possibly, this sort of bondage could make it impossible for you to carry out an order.  Drill or training (abgerichtet sein) should never be extended until (should stop just short of) absolute bondage. 

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