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Table of contents :
Contents
Prologue
PART I. The Corrective Will
CHAPTER 1. Death and Literary Authority: Marcel Proust and Melanie Klein
CHAPTER 2. Erotic Assumptions: Narcissism and Sublimation in Freud
CHAPTER 3. Boundaries of Time and Being: Benjamin, Baudelaire, Nietzsche
CHAPTER 4. Literature and History: Malraux and Bataille
PART II. Encyclopedic Fictions
CHAPTER 5. Flaubertian Rhythms of Knowledge
CHAPTER 6. Incomparable America
CHAPTER 7. Against Ulysses
CHAPTER 8. Pynchon, Paranoia, and Literature
Epilogue
Notes
Index
Recommend Papers

The Culture of Redemption
 0674179773, 9780674734272, 0674734270

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The Culture of Redemption

The Culture of Redemption Leo Bersani

Harvard University Press Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England

1990

Copyright © 1990 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 This book is printed on acid-free paper, and its binding materials have been chosen for strength and durability. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication

Data

Bersani, Leo. The culture of redemption / Leo Bersani. p. cm. Includes index. ISBN 0-674-17977-3 1. Psychoanalysis and literature. 2. Literature, Modem—History and criticism. 3. Aesthetics. I. Title. PN56.P92B368 1990 809'.93353—dcl9 89-15304 CIP

Contents Prologue Part I 1

1 The Corrective

Will

Death and Literary Authority: Marcel Proust and Melanie Klein

2

Erotic Assumptions: Narcissism and Sublimation in Freud 29

3

Boundaries of Time and Being: Benjamin, Baudelaire, Nietzsche

4

7

47

Literature and History: Malraux and Bataille 102

Part II

Enclyclopedic

Fictions

5

Flaubertian Rhythms of Knowledge

6

Incomparable America

7

Against Ulysses

8

Pynchon, Paranoia, and Literature

Epilogue 201 Notes

211

Index

231

127

136

155 179

The Culture of Redemption

Prologue This book is a frankly polemical study of claims made in the modern period for the authoritative, even redemptive virtues of literature. Chapter 1 lays out the main lines of my argument; but it may be useful if, in a prefatory note, I both define the boundaries of the argument and alert the reader to a certain conceptual mobility in its elaboration. The generically and historically heterogeneous essays that follow will make it clear that I am not interested in a thorough, and thoroughly scholarly, tracing of the genealogy of the culture of redemption. Were I to have written that sort of book, I would, for example, have studied the relation of modern ideas of art as redemptive to earlier notions of art as preserving otherwise perishable experience, or as expressing the universal through the particular; and within the modern period the redemptive aesthetic would have to be distinguished from the willed isolation and alienation of art from the rest of life in the art-for-art's-sake credo. Indeed, the aesthetic morality I will be studying frequently includes the project of art's faithful adherence to experience; it may even be consistent with an ideal of nearly literal realism. A crucial assumption in the culture of redemption is that a certain type of repetition of experience in art repairs inherently damaged or valueless experience. Experience may be overwhelming, practically impossible to absorb, but it is assumed—and this is especially evident in much encyclopedic fiction—that the work of art has the authority to master the presumed raw material of experience in a manner that uniquely gives value to, perhaps even redeems, that material. This may sound like an unattackable truism, and yet I want to show that such apparently acceptable views of art's beneficently reconstructive function in culture depend on a devaluation of historical experience and of art. The catastrophes of history matter much less if they are somehow compensated for in art, and art itself gets reduced to a kind of superior patching function, is enslaved to those very materials to which it presumably imparts value.

2

Prologue

The culture of redemption might be thought of as the creation of what Nietzsche called the theoretical m a n — w h o Nietzsche claimed first appeared in the West in the person of Socrates—the man w h o attributes to thought the power to "correct" existence. Although it is true that n o one would seem more securely exempt than Socrates f r o m p r o m o t i n g the notion of art as redemptive, that notion is itself, as I have just suggested, antiartistic. T h e redemptive aesthetic asks us to consider art as a correction of life, but the corrective virtue of works of art depends on a misreading of art as philosophy. Art, as Plato rightly saw, cannot have the unity, the identity, the stability of truth; it does not belong to the world of perfectly intelligible ideas. A redemptive aesthetic based on the negation of life (in Nietzschean terms, on a nihilism that invents a "true w o r l d " as an alternative to an inferior and depreciated world of mere appearance) must also negate art. In the culture of redemption, this negation is never explicit, but it can be seen with particular clarity within the very works that make the redemptive claim for art. T h u s the extraordinary value that Proust's narrator learns to attribute to art is evidenced in his o w n work by a strong (but happily unsuccessful) movement away f r o m novelizing and by a depreciation of his o w n fictions. As the Proustian novel progresses, it comes more and more to be dominated by the enunciation of general laws, and the narrator's life is subordinated to those laws and given the status of a heuristic lie. This life, and the dramatic fictions that constitute it, would be nothing m o r e than what art adds to philosophy: the degradation of laws into vivid exemplary illustrations of laws. T h e Proustian novel almost (we will see the full importance of this qualification) realizes a dream in Western thought of literature as serving philosophy, as providing an addendum of examples to a purer (if perhaps inherently unreadable) discourse on and of truth. A la Recherche du temps perdu moves toward, but never reaches, an ideal limit where the novel itself would be freed f r o m its exemplifying function, would no longer be burdened with the impurities of novelizing. Ideally, art would be truth liberated f r o m phenomena. T h e stretching of the Proustian novel toward this extreme limit (where art would become its o w n philosophical criticism) even gives to the later volumes their austere beauty, the beauty of a novel that has nearly abstracted itself f r o m its fables. T h e shapes of a literature without redemptive authority are most carefully investigated in m y discussions of Baudelaire, Nietzsche, Bataille, and Pynchon. T h e book doesn't "lead u p " to Baudelaire and Nietzsche, but the reader might like to k n o w that Chapter 3 was the last chapter to be written, that it is probably something like the conceptual center of the work. This, I should add, I find all the more surprising in that Chapter 3 ends by leaning heavily on a work that at once proposes an aesthetic of

Prologue

3

redemption and yet so radically redefines the notion as to become a p o w erful argument against it: Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy. But even as I write this I feel inclined to displace this center, to move it back to the discussion of narcissism in Chapter 2. In m y previous w o r k on Freud, I have been interested in tracing the collapse of theoretical authority in his work, the discursive moves by which arguments are at once elaborated and disformulated, and I have argued that those m o m e n t s of collapse—the antisystemic m o m e n t s in Freud—provide us with the most authentically psychoanalytic events in his writing. For these events confirm the necessary implication of psychoanalytic theorizing itself in disturbances that, while ostensibly the subject of its discourse, m o r e p r o foundly agitate that discourse. Chapter 2 attempts to locate that area of Freudian theory most likely to provide us with a satisfactory account both of the collapse of theory and of attempts at theoretical and systemic recovery. The reaffirmation of s y s t e m — b y which I also mean the reaffirmation of authority—takes place in Freud primarily by way of reinforcements in the theory of the ego as, precisely, the instance of authority in the self with respect to both the inner and the outer worlds. Freud's 1914 essay " O n Narcissism" is a startling demonstration of just such an exercise in recovery, an exercise all the more unexpected because the discussion begins by suggesting that the ego is born as an already shattered totality, as an agency seduced into being by the very prospect of being shattered. T h e conceptual mobility I referred to at the start can perhaps best be located in a move f r o m the somewhat limited vocabulary of redemption to the theoretical centering of the question of authoritative selfhood. This shift corresponds to a growing conviction on m y part that the culture of redemption itself depends on even more fundamental assumptions about authoritative identities, about identity as authority. I recognize that, in saying all this, I also confirm a slightly dispiriting consistency in m y o w n work. I have perhaps been less restlessly self-dismissive in m y criticism than m y work suggests I should be, and, just as concentric circles are constituted by movements at once amplifying and replicative, I have for some years n o w repeatedly circled around the question of the relation between cultural authority, selfhood, and sexuality. To say this should be taken as a confession that the questions I ask in reading literary texts (or visual art) constitute a kind of moral criticism, and that this involves a certain indifference to criticism anxious to teach us the difference between the literary and the nonliterary. T h e aesthetic of narcissism adumbrated in certain chapters of this book is in line with this more general ethical-erotic project. T h e narcissism pointed to in the first pages of Freud's essay on narcissism is a selfjouissance that dissolves the person and thereby, at least temporarily,

4

Prologue

erases the sacrosanct value of selfhood, a value that may account for human beings' extraordinary willingness to kill in order to protect the seriousness of their statements. The self is a practical convenience; promoted to the status of an ethical ideal, it is a sanction for violence. If sexuality is socially dysfunctional in that it brings people together only to plunge them into a self-shattering and solipsistic jouissance that drives them apart (a jouissance somehow "figured" in writers as different as Baudelaire, Bataille, and Flaubert), it can also be thought of as our primary, hygienic practice of nonviolence, and even as a kind of biological protection against our continuously renewed efforts to disguise and to exercise the tyranny of the self in the prestigious form of legitimate cultural authority. To trace some of the narcissistic retreats and intensities of literature may at least help us to think of art, and teach us to want an art, unavailable for any such legitimizing plots.

PART

I

The Corrective

Will

CHAPTER

1

Death and Literary Authority: Marcel Proust and Melanie Klein What is the redemptive power of art? M o r e fundamentally, what are the assumptions that make it seem natural to think of art as having such a power? In attempting to answer these questions, I will first be turning to Proust, w h o embodies perhaps more clearly—in a sense, even m o r e crudely—than any other major artist a tendency to think of cultural s y m bolizations as essentially reparative. This tendency, which had already been sanctified as a more or less explicit d o g m a of modern high culture by Proust's time, persists in our o w n time as the enabling morality of a humanistic criticism. I will argue that the notion of art as salvaging somehow damaged experience has, furthermore, been served by psychoanalysis—more specifically, by a certain view of sublimation first proposed rather disconnectedly by Freud and later developed m o r e coherently and forcefully by Melanie Klein. T h e psychoanalytic theory I refer to makes n o r m a t i v e — b o t h for an individual and for a culture—the mortuary aesthetic of A la Recherche du temps perdu. As everyone knows, involuntary memories play a crucial role in the Proustian narrator's discovery of his vocation as a writer. Let us begin with a somewhat untypical example of the genre, the passage in Sodome et Gomorrhe describing the "resurrection" of Marcel's grandmother on the first evening of his second visit to Balbec. This passage reformulates the importance of m e m o r y for art in terms of another relation about which the theoretical passages concluding Le Temps retrouve will be at once p r o lific and evasive: the dependence of art on death. This dependence is obliquely defined in two very different ways, and the difference is first pointed to by what the narrator describes as the painful contradiction inherent in his involuntary memory. O n the one hand, the possession of others is possible only when they are dead; only then is nothing opposed to our image of them. Biological death accomplishes, or literalizes, the annihilation of others that Proust tirelessly p r o poses as the aim of our interest in others. " T h e living reality" of his

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The Corrective Will

g r a n d m o t h e r at the m o m e n t of involuntary m e m o r y is exactly equivalent to her ideal penetrability. At such m o m e n t s , the narrator writes, n o t h i n g remains of past j o y and past suffering other than " t h e self that originally lived t h e m . " 1 T h e p o s t h u m o u s possession of others is always an unprecedented self-possession. A n d yet there is of course a real loss. It is, however, by n o m e a n s certain that it is the g r a n d m o t h e r herself w h o has been lost, since her death is seen primarily as having deprived Marcel of himself. W h e n the narrator speaks of " t h a t contradiction of survival and annihilation so strangely i n t e r t w i n e d within m e (cette contradiction si etrange de la survivance et du neant entre-croisis en moi)," he means, first of all, that his g r a n d m o t h e r has suddenly been resurrected in h i m and, second, that death has erased his image f r o m her tenderness ( " u n neant qui avait efface m o n image de cette tendresse"). 2 In a sense, t h e n — a n d quite bizarrely—it is Marcel's g r a n d m o t h e r w h o has survived her death and Marcel himself w h o has disappeared. N o t h i n g n e s s , as the narrator strikingly puts it, had m a d e of his g r a n d m o t h e r "at the m o m e n t w h e n I had f o u n d her again as in a mirror, a mere stranger w h o m chance had allowed to spend a f e w years w i t h m e . . . but to w h o m , before and after those years, I was and w o u l d be n o t h i n g " ( 2 : 7 8 5 - 7 8 6 ; 2 : 7 5 8 - 7 5 9 ) . In these boxes of survival and nothingness placed o n e w i t h i n the other, the living g r a n d s o n sees an image of his g r a n d m o t h e r contained within his o w n image; b u t her i m a g e — a l t h o u g h it can n o w be n o w h e r e but in h i m — n o longer contains h i m . H i d d e n within this strangely specular relation to his g r a n d m o t h e r ' s renewed presence is Marcel's o w n absence. T h e unprecedented selfpossession I referred to is identical to an irremediable loss of self. W h o , finally, is that " m e r e stranger" n o w seen for the first time? M o r e significant, I think, than the p o s t h u m o u s porousness of the other is the fact that the g r a n d m o t h e r is only n o w authentically other. It could p e r haps be said that the only way w e ever experience death (as distinct f r o m dying) is in a change in the m o d e of a relation. Marcel's i n v o l u n t a r y m e m o r y returns his g r a n d m o t h e r to h i m as the outside of thought: that is, not as s o m e o n e w h o can be desired or appropriated or dialectically related to, but simply as s o m e o n e w h o existed beside h i m , a mere other presence in the world. A relation of desire has, it w o u l d seem, been replaced by a j u x t a p o s i t i o n . T h i s change is of course n o t e d w i t h despair, and yet it could also be said that Marcel n o w experiences his g r a n d m o t h er's death as a retroactive—and spectral—rediversification of the w o r l d . Desire in P r o u s t w o r k s to reduce the w o r l d to a reflection of the desiring subject; death, however, w o u l d seem to be the condition for an escape f r o m the self-repetitions initiated by desire and a restoring to the w o r l d of those differences that p r o m o t e d anxious desire in the first place. F r o m this perspective, death recreates (in, so to speak, reverse affectivity: pain

Death and Literary Authority

9

is substituted for excitement) Marcel's exhilarated shock, frequently recorded in the early volumes, at discovering his o w n absence f r o m the world. D e a t h experienced within an involuntary m e m o r y thus helps to define involuntary m e m o r y as a kind of death. For if such m e m o r i e s revive the past as n o t h i n g m o r e than the self that lived it ("le m o i qui le vecut"), they also effect, belatedly and retroactively, a radical separation of the self f r o m the world. If, for example, the madeleine resurrects a w h o l l y internalized C o m b r a y , it also projects or t h r o w s forth f r o m w i t h i n that i n ternalization a C o m b r a y of pure appearance, a C o m b r a y that persists phenomenally, f r o m w h i c h all Marcel's past i n t e r e s t s — f r o m w h i c h M a r cel h i m s e l f — h a v e been evacuated and to w h i c h a n e w relation m u s t be invented. I want to approach the consequences for art of this contradiction by way of a long detour. Perhaps the m o s t curious aspect of the passage f r o m Sodome et Gomorrhe I have been discussing is the narrator's undecidable relation to it. T h e r e are t w o t e m p o r a l perspectives in the passage (the m o m e n t of the m e m o r y at Balbec and the m o m e n t of w r i t ing) and three central t e r m s (the painful impression itself, the truth to be extracted f r o m that impression, and the role of intelligence in the extracting process). At the end of an extremely dense analysis of "cette c o n t r a diction si etrange de la survivance et du neant entrecroises en m o i , " the narrator writes: I did not know whether I should one day distil a grain of truth from this painful and for the moment incomprehensible impression, but I knew that if I ever did . . . it could only be from such an impression and from none other, an impression at once so particular and so spontaneous, which had neither been traced by my intelligence nor attenuated by my pusillanimity, but which death itself, the sudden revelation of death, striking like a thunderbolt, had carved within me, along a supernatural and inhuman graph, in a double and mysterious furrow. (2:786-787; 2:759) W h a t can this mean? We m i g h t reasonably think that the f e w pages w e have j u s t read are the expression of any " t r u t h " w h i c h may have been contained w i t h i n that past impression. T h e narrator has been m o v i n g easily—as he does t h r o u g h o u t the n o v e l — f r o m certain interpretations of his experience (or, as he w o u l d say, certain truths) that appear to date f r o m the time of the involuntary m e m o r y to reflections on the incident as he n o w writes a b o u t it. H e had apparently already u n d e r s t o o d and suffered f r o m the contradictory nature of his g r a n d m o t h e r ' s " r e s u r r e c t i o n , " while certain other t h o u g h t s presented as general laws are perhaps disengaged at the m o m e n t of writing. T h u s the narrator's r e m a r k that " t h e living reality" of the past " d o e s not exist for us until it has been recreated by our t h o u g h t , " and the sentences in which, again using the

10

The Corrective Will

present, he traces the relation between the "perturbations of m e m o r y (troubles de la memoire)" and "the heart's intermittences (les intermittences du coeur)" bring a kind of interpretative closure now to Marcel's m e m o r y at Balbec (2:783-784; 2:756). But the status of these confidently formulated laws—obviously made with the aid of intelligence—is suddenly t h r o w n into doubt by the claim that if he were one day to disengage some truth f r o m his involuntary memory, it could only be f r o m the "particular" and "spontaneous" impression itself, which had not, he adds, been traced by his intelligence. Furthermore, since it was in the past that he realized these preconditions of truth, this insight into that peculiar intersection of survival and nothingness—an insight also belonging to the past—cannot really be part of the desirable truth apparently still to come. Will it ever come? And what is the relation to that truth of the text we have been reading? It is as if the narrator were making explicit here the ambiguous status of the entire Proustian text. I speak of an ambiguity that has led some of Proust's readers to raise the extremely peculiar question of whether or not the text we have is the one the narrator tells us, at the end of Le Temps retrouve, that he finally set out to write. It is the Proustian narrator himself w h o sows the seeds o f t h a t doubt by p r o m o t ing, throughout the work, precisely the kind of undecidability we have located in the passage f r o m Sodome et Gomorrhe. And his hesitation about whether the w o r k he is writing is the work he has chosen to write can be traced to the effects, on the process of writing, of a conception of art as a kind of remedial completion of life. If the narrator encourages the reader's doubt about whether this is the work he speaks of writing at the end of Le Temps retrouve, he leaves us in even greater doubt about the relation of this work to his life. O n the one hand, "the function and the task of a writer," as the narrator will conclude in Le Temps retrouve, "are those of a translator" (3:926; 3:890). Art would be " o u r real life, reality as we have felt or experienced it (notre vraie vie, la realite telle que nous l'avons sentie)" (3:915; 3:881). Moved by what would appear to be the extreme purity of this referential aesthetic, the narrator even distrusts the element of work in art. In A I'Ombre des jeunes filles en fleur he recalls wondering if "the differences between one man's books and another's were not the result of their respective labours"—and if art would not thereby be mere artifice, or even deception ("s'il n'y a pas dans tout cela un peu de feinte")—"rather than the expression of a radical and essential difference between diverse personalities" (1:591; 1:549). And during the period of his love for Albertine in Paris, Marcel is " t r o u b l e d " by Wagner's "habilete vulcanienne": "if art is no more than t h a t " — t h a t is, superior craftsmanship, "the result of industrious toil"—then "it is no more real than life" and there is no reason to regret his lack of literary talent (3:159; 3 : 1 6 1 - 1 6 2 ) . Art, then, is

Death and Literary Authority

1i

"real" to the degree that it discovers and expresses a preexistent truth; it is "factitious" (the "reel-factice" opposition is Proust's) to the extent that it produces a " t r u t h " of its own, a truth derived f r o m the conditions and constraints of literary performance. But h o w are we to understand a translation more real than its original? Marcel's literary education culminates in the discovery that the only life worth living is life "realized within the confines of a book (realisee dans un livre)" (3:1088; 3:1032). Outside a book, that same life is both w o r t h less and a source of suffering: hence the narrator's astonishing and relentless condemnation of his nonetheless meticulously recorded experience. If Marcel continuously reproaches himself for having friendships, for g o ing into society, even for falling in love, it is, he suggests, because he should have been at h o m e trying to get to the b o t t o m of his impressions of friendship, society, and love. In the w o r k of art, a certain type of representation of experience will operate both as an escape f r o m the objects of representation and as a justification (retroactive, even posthumous) for having had any experiences at all. In Proust, art simultaneously erases, repeats, and redeems life. Literary repetition is an annihilating salvation. It would be a simplification of this project to say of it, as Sartre has said of Flaubert, that for Proust art is a strategy of derealization. In La Recherche the imaginary is considered as the m o d e in which life is most authentically realized: art is a kind of epistemological and moral surreality, the interpretation of sensations, as the narrator writes in Le Temps retrouve, as signs of laws and ideas. If the Proustian novel's relation to the Proustian narrator's experience is, however, necessarily and irremediably ambiguous, this is because Proust is continuously having to decide h o w to place phenomena within an essentializing version of them. T h e subject of the Proustian novel is the relation between truth and existence, and the ontological undecidability of all the events recorded in the novel reflects the problematic nature of that relation. In what m o d e do phenomena persist in the record of their essence? In a sense, La Recherche moves toward a relatively simple answer to that question: in the later volumes, the phenomenal is m o r e and m o r e absorbed in the universally valid formula, the general law. T h e adequate formulation of a truth would make the representation of phenomena superfluous. But Proust is clearly reluctant to divorce truth entirely f r o m the experience that it ultimately invalidates. His narrator therefore seeks to "repeat" his experience in a way that will deprive it of any existential authority. T h e transcendence of phenomena depends on a certain discrediting of phenomena at the very m o m e n t of their representation. As the major step in this maneuver, experience is divorced f r o m a securely locatable subject of experience. Whose life is the narrative record-

12

The Corrective Will

ing? T h e autobiographical " I " of La Recherche is not n a m e d until w e are m o r e than t w o t h o u s a n d pages into the novel. E v e n then, only a first n a m e is given in a dizzyingly hypothetical m a n n e r . T h e narrator is speaking of Albertine w a k i n g u p in the b e d r o o m of his Paris a p a r t m e n t : " T h e n she w o u l d find her t o n g u e and say: ' M y ' or ' M y darling' followed b y m y Christian name, w h i c h , if w e give the narrator the same n a m e as the a u t h o r of this b o o k , w o u l d be (eüt fait) ' M y Marcel' or ' M y darling M a r cel' " (3:69; 3:75). T h i s extraordinary violation of the c o n v e n t i o n according to w h i c h a fictional narrator cannot possibly " k n o w " the a u t h o r of the novel in w h i c h he himself figures is nonetheless consistent w i t h the destabilization of self initiated by the act of writing. A la Recherche du temps perdu is a nonattributable autobiographical novel. T h e experience it records may, it is suggested, belong to Marcel Proust, or it may b e l o n g to a fictional character n a m e d Marcel, or it may b e l o n g to a fictional character n o t n a m e d Marcel. O r , finally, it may b e l o n g to n o o n e at all. In Le Temps retrouve the narrator praises the m o d e s t h e r o i s m of the rich Lariviere couple d u r i n g World War I w h o , after their nephew's death at the front, c o m e out of retirement to w o r k fifteen h o u r s a day, w i t h o u t wages, in his y o u n g w i d o w ' s Parisian cafe. Theirs, w e are told, is the only real n a m e and the only real story in the entire w o r k ; everything else is fictive, everything else has been invented "in accordance w i t h the requirements of m y t h e m e (selon les besoins de ma demonstration)" (3:876; 3:846). If this is the case, and if w e are to take the narrator's literary p r o g r a m seriously, w e w o u l d have a b o o k of nearly unimaginable originality: a w h o l l y invented translation. T h e translation of particular e x p e rience into general laws is conceivable and is not, p r o p e r l y speaking, an invention; m u c h m o r e difficult to conceive is an entirely fictive life that w o u l d nonetheless be the "real life," life as he felt or experienced it, o f — w h o m ? Is the narrator himself to be included a m o n g the " i n v e n t e d " elements of his w o r k ? If the narrator is not to be t h o u g h t of as his o w n invention, h o w d o w e locate, and w h a t is the status of, a figure w h o s e real life is " r e m e m b e r e d " entirely in fictive terms? H o w can the reality of the subject be distinguished f r o m the w h o l l y invented experience b y w h i c h , after all, w e k n o w that subject? O n e could say that the narrator m o m e n t a r i l y steps outside the fictive relations he has invented for himself in order to pay tribute to the Lariviere couple. O n e is, of course, even m o r e t e m p t e d to appeal to bio g r a p h y in order to say that the tribute represents an unassimilated i n t r u sion into the narrative of P r o u s t himself. T h e passage is, however, less interesting as a strictly local puzzle or anomaly than as a crystallization of a m o r e pervasive d o u b t in the novel. In La Recherche, translation into art means departicularization, and this is the case even w h e n particular people and events are being represented. It is as if the n a r r a t o r — o r

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Proust—had first of all abstracted his experience into general laws and then deduced another version of the particular f r o m those laws, a kind of second-degree particularity of experience disengaged f r o m existence. T h e narrator suggests something very much like this when he writes in A I'Ombre desjeunes filles en fleur: " T h u s it is useless to observe customs, since one can deduce them f r o m psychological laws" (1:552; 1:513). In La Recherche the situation is somewhat m o r e complicated, since it is the already fictive narrator—and not Proust the a u t h o r — w h o speaks of having entirely invented a past for the purposes of his " d e m o n s t r a t i o n . " T h u s a fictive narrator's invented past would ultimately derive f r o m that narrator's "real" life—which of course means f r o m an equally fictive life. T h e latter would, however, be a fiction that has not been invented; having been, as it were, bypassed in the move f r o m the more or less verifiable real life of the author Marcel Proust to the narrator's invention of his life, it would have the remarkable referential status of a necessary origin that has never been realized, either biographically or novelistically. Gilles Deleuze has compared Proustian essences to Leibnizian " m o nads," each of which expresses the world f r o m a distinctive point of view. T h e world thus expressed, Deleuze writes, "does not exist outside the subject expressing it, but it is expressed as the essence not of the subject but of Being, or of the region of Being which is revealed to the subject." 3 T h u s the "morceau ideal" of Bergotte is at once the most individual and the least particular aspect of Bergotte. It is an individuality s o m e h o w detached f r o m the point of view of experience, a repetition or translation of Bergotte that is simultaneously wholly different f r o m Bergotte. In art, the particular is resurrected as the individual; or, to put this another way, art in Proust is, at least ideally, truth liberated from phenomena. What is, however, most striking about this p r o g r a m in La Recherche is that it is indissociable f r o m the kinds of questions I have been raising—questions about the narrator's identity, about the invented or remembered nature of his recorded past, about whether this is the book the theory of which is given at the end of Le Temps retrouve, a n d — t o return to the question raised by the "intermittences du coeur" passage f r o m Sodome et Gomorrhe—about the degree to which the work we are reading is actually expressing those truths or essences that literature presumably disengages f r o m experience. That is, Proust problematizes the very signs by which we might recognize the success of his narrator's literary enterprise. And in each case the problematizing takes the f o r m of an uncertainty, traced within the text itself, about whether experience has been sufficiently departicularized to qualify as truth. It is, moreover, as if this uncertainty were being expressed in relation to the particular itself—which would mean that the move into truth or essences would

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not be necessarily, or even primarily, a generalizing move, but would require a displaced repetition of the particular. We are meant to see the narrator in t w o quite different relations to each of the people and events he records: first, as Marcel k n o w i n g these people and living these events (in La Recherche, this essentially means in relations of desire to them) and, second, as the narrator n o w writing about the first relation. T h e second relation is the only justification for the first one. Furthermore, it is a justification that, strictly speaking, requires no content: it is the narrator's present position that principally operates the reversal of value. And this position can be defined as the intrinsically superior one of death. "All those men and w o m e n w h o had revealed some truth to me and w h o were n o w no more, appeared again before me, and it seemed as though they had lived a life which had profited only myself, as though they had died for m e . " T h e narrator continues: " A book is a huge cemetery in which, on the majority of the tombs, the names are erased and can n o longer be read" (3:939-940; 3:902). T h e perspective of death permits the resurrection of others as redemptive truths. But, unlike the involuntary m e m o r y that resurrects Marcel's grandmother as a wholly other presence in the w o r l d — a presence that no longer contains Marcel and that he can no longer appropriate—the death evoked as a condition of art in Le Temps retrouve is the retrospective absorption of others into the narrator's " m o n a d i c " point of view. A la Recherche du temps perdu proposes death as a metaphor for the artist's relation to the world in t w o contrasting ways. O n the one hand, the death of others definitively ejects or expels Marcel f r o m their being and thereby recreates the world as difference. O n the other, their death both ends all resistance to Marcel's voracious desire to appropriate t h e m and allows him to reconstruct the objects of his desires as invulnerable truths. Experience destroys; art restores. In what way is experience—or, more precisely, desire—destructive? Rather than attempt to answer my question directly, I will reformulate it in other contexts—thereby evoking the concentric circles of La Recherche itself, in which each section is a mistaken yet illuminating replication and approfondissement of the preceding section. Proust's novel offers us the model for a circular, or nonnarrative, criticism. Although La Recherche proceeds narratively toward a conclusive vindication of Marcel's vocation as an artist in Le Temps retrouve, this classical movement toward a resolution and revelation is undermined as it takes place. Because the entire work is written after its o w n climax, the reader is implicitly invited to find the theoretical formulations of the final pages superfluous: we should, ideally, be able to infer them f r o m the w o r k they inform f r o m beginning to end. Suspense is p r o m o t e d as a primary value of reading at the same time that the reader is encouraged to read without suspense—or,

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in other terms, to invent a motive for reading unsustained by a promise of epistemological gain. Everything is present f r o m the start, and this is rendered thematically visible by the schematic treatment of all the major topics of La Recherche (memory, nature, love, social life, art) in Combray. T h e subsequent sections of the novel, instead of adding anything radically new to what the early pages have already given us, provide a kind of mnemonic hermeneutics on the themes of the first volume. La Recherche continues to repeat its o w n beginning with an increasingly bloated intelligibility. T h e rather simple chronological linearity of the novel is thus complicated by a movement of circular repetition—or, m o r e exactly, by the simultaneously amplifying and replicative m o v e m e n t of concentric circles. We may see in the tension between these two movements a structural analogue of Proust's conflicting views of the relation between phenomena and truth, or between experience and art. Is life always prior to the essences that art alone disengages? O r is art a certain type of repetition of the phenomenal itself, a repetition that, far f r o m substituting truth for appearances, continuously re-presents appearances in order to test modes of interpretation freed f r o m the constraints of anxious desire? If I n o w turn away f r o m Proust in order, as it were, to repeat him psychoanalytically, this move can be taken as the procedural expression of m y own interest in the possibility of a circular hermeneutics—that is, in the possibility of repetition as the occasion for revising the terms of our interest in the objects of our interpretations. *

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What is the place of sexuality in culture? O r , to put this question in Freudian terms, h o w are cultural activities "invested" with sexual interests? In one of her first papers—the 1923 essay entitled "Early Analysis"—Melanie Klein proposes what her later w o r k compels us to recognize as some very non-Kleinian answers to these questions. T h e essay I refer to—based on three unpublished papers—is difficult and diffuse. The first half is an extremely dense theoretical discussion; the second half is a considerably m o r e relaxed, and intellectually less interesting, case history. Klein begins with a therapeutically oriented discussion of the role of anxiety in the "neurotic inhibitions of talent." 4 T h e basis of such inhibitions is, as we might expect, "a strong primary pleasure which had been repressed on account of its sexual character" (EA, 77). T h e analyst reverses the inhibiting mechanism by helping the patient to release, recognize, and w o r k through the anxiety that the mechanism has " b o u n d " and thus to return to the original, anxiety-provoking pleasure. But n o w the pleasure can be enjoyed: " B y successful removal of the inhibition, I do not simply mean that the inhibitions as such should be

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The Corrective Will

diminished or removed, b u t that the analysis should succeed in reinstating the p r i m a r y pleasure of the activity" (EA, 78). T h i s local conclusion on the paper's second page is extremely i m p o r t a n t , for it raises questions that will lead to the m o s t original m o m e n t s in the discussion. T h e r e is apparently a n o n p r o b l e m a t i c , nonneurotic, sexualizing of ego intere s t s — o f those " t a l e n t s " referred to in the essay's first sentence. T h e p a tient's analysis ends not w i t h a separation of libidinal tendencies f r o m ego activities, b u t rather w i t h a recognition of their compatibility. In other words, the nonsexual can be sexualized in an analytically irreducible way: therapy ends here, and there is n o t h i n g m o r e to be interpreted. H o w has this happened? A f t e r a couple of pages of f o l l o w i n g Freud o n the question of the repression of affects and their t r a n s f o r m a t i o n into anxiety, Klein comes back to the m e c h a n i s m of inhibition as a potentially healthy m o d e of binding and discharging anxiety. Such apparently n o n neurotic inhibitions imply, Klein writes, " t h a t a certain quantity of anxiety had been taken u p by an ego-tendency w h i c h already had a previous libidinal cathexis" (EA, 81). T h u s the a r g u m e n t r e t u r n s — i n different t e r m s — t o the " p r i m a r y " investment of ego activities w i t h sexual pleasure. T h e so-called n o n n e u r o t i c inhibition leans on an already established sexualizing of ego interests. Klein asserts that priority w h e n , several pages later, she writes: " W e may suppose that for a sublimation to be inhibited it m u s t have actually come into existence as a sublimation" (EA, 90). T h e crucial notion of sublimation had entered the a r g u m e n t almost immediately after the sentence about anxiety's having been taken u p b y ego tendencies w i t h " p r e v i o u s libidinal cathexis," and in this first a p pearance of the concept Klein equates " t h e capacity to s u b l i m a t e " w i t h " t h e capacity to e m p l o y superfluous libido [before, it is implied, either fixation or repression] in a cathexis of ego-tendencies" (EA, 81). 5 A f e w pages later, in a paragraph of great originality that s o m e w h a t perversely manages to present itself as a s u m m a r y of the theories of f o u r other analysts (Hans Sperber, Sandor Ferenczi, Ernest Jones, and Freud), Klein discusses the origin of those libidinally invested ego tendencies that, by " t a k i n g u p " the anxiety connected to sexual pleasures, help to p r o d u c e inhibitions of " n o r m a l " rather than " n e u r o t i c " intensity. W h a t she describes is a m o v e m e n t f r o m identification to s y m b o l i s m , and the description is particularly interesting in view of the very different ways in w h i c h identification is defined in her later w o r k . H e r e identification w o u l d appear to be the exact opposite of object relationships; it is the activity of w h a t m i g h t be called an appetitive narcissism. T h e first identifications in this process take place o n the child's o w n b o d y ; referring to speculations m a d e b y Freud and Ferenczi, Klein speaks of equivalences that the child sees "in the u p p e r part of its b o d y for each affectively i m portant detail of the lower p a r t " (EA, 85). Identification thus w o r k s here

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as an extension of regions of pleasure: b o t h the child's o w n b o d y and the w o r l d of objects are tested for their capacity to repeat certain sensations, to generalize originally local sensations. F u r t h e r m o r e , in b o t h identification and the displacement of libido to n e w objects and ego activities (a displacement that constitutes s y m b o l formation), it is, for Klein, the identification itself that produces pleasure and not, as Jones argues, a prior "similitude of pleasurable tone or interest" that w o u l d be the p r e condition for c o m p a r i s o n s and identifications (EA, 85). " O b j e c t s and activities," she writes, " n o t in themselves sources of pleasure, b e c o m e so t h r o u g h this identification, a sexual pleasure being displaced o n t o t h e m " (EA, 85). N o w w h e n Klein gives examples of s y m b o l f o r m a t i o n , she actually seems to be describing symbolic symptom f o r m a t i o n : that is, the choice of certain objects and ego activities because of their resemblance to the repressed m e m o r i e s and fantasies. In this view, the symbolizing process w o u l d be n o t h i n g m o r e than a compulsive substitute for the f r i g h t e n i n g or f o r b i d d e n original pleasures. It is here that the originality of Klein's a r g u m e n t risks being dissipated as sublimation once again begins to look like a specialized branch of s y m p t o m a t o l o g y . T h i s blurring of definitions has of course occurred frequently in the history of psychoanalytic theory. Freud himself left us n o sustained analysis of sublimation, and his o w n discussions of literature and the visual arts tend to stress either the c o m pensatory or the s y m p t o m a t i c nature of art. N o t only d o the m e c h a n i s m s of sublimation o f t e n seem indistinguishable f r o m those of repression and s y m p t o m f o r m a t i o n in m u c h psychoanalytic writing; the w o r k of art is o f t e n " t r e a t e d " — i n t e r p r e t e d and, one m i g h t almost say, c u r e d — a s if it were little m o r e than a socialized s y m p t o m . It is therefore all the m o r e interesting to see Klein's a t t e m p t in "Early Analysis" to locate the specificity of a sublimating mechanism. Perhaps the m o s t crucial factor in this effort is her assumption of a certain quantity of " s u p e r f l u o u s " or " s u s p e n d e d " libido. She speaks, for example, of " t h e ability to hold libido in a state of suspension" as a " c o n t r i b u t i n g f a c t o r " to the capacity to sublimate (EA, 87). It is as if the history of an individual's sexuality included a m o m e n t of significant uncertainty a b o u t the fate of sexual energy. O r , in other terms, it is as if sexual excitement exceeded the representations attached to it and therefore became greedily, even promiscuously, available to other scenes and other activities. A n d the displacement of libido o n t o other object and ego activities can be called s y m b o l f o r m a t i o n only if w e spccify that these objects and activities act symbolically without symbolizing anything external to them. O n l y if w e see her a r g u m e n t m o v i n g in this direction can w e u n d e r stand Klein's surprising r e m a r k that w h e n "pleasurable situations, actually experienced or phantasied" are "given play in an e g o - t e n d e n c y . . .

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the fixations are divested of their sexual character" (EA, 8 7 - 8 8 ) . What can this mean except that the ego tendencies in question can no longer be considered "symbolic" in the sense in which Klein—like most analysts—usually understands that word? We would have a nonallusive or nonreferential symbol. In sublimation, ego activities become " s y m b o l s " in the sense that the most diverse cultural activities "symbolize" the libidinal energy with which they are invested. We would not have a s y m bol that merely participates in the nature of an extrinsic symbolized object or activity (as, to use one of Klein's o w n examples, "athletic m o v e ments of all kinds stand for penetrating into the m o t h e r " [EA, 86]). Rather, forms of culture would symbolize nothing more than that which is already contained within them: the sexual energy that thereby "acts as the stimulus and driving force of talent" (EA, 88). T h u s the most varied ego interests would represent symbolically not specific sexual fantasies but the very process by which h u m a n interests and behavior are sexually moved. From this perspective, sublimation can no longer be described (as it usually has been) in terms of a drive whose aim has been changed or displaced, for the drive in question would be, precisely, an aimless one, a kind of floating signifier of sexual energy. Sublimation would describe the fate of sexual energies detached f r o m sexual desires. *

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But the view of sublimation as coextensive with sexuality occupies only a marginal place in the development of Kleinian theory. " F r o m the beginning of m y psycho-analytic w o r k , " Klein wrote in 1948, " m y interest was focused on anxiety and its causation, and this brought me nearer to the understanding of the relation between aggression and anxiety." 6 In effect, during m o r e than forty years of analytic practice and speculation, Klein elaborated the most radical—at once the most compelling and the most implausible—theory regarding infantile anxiety and aggression in the history of psychoanalysis. I will assume a certain familiarity with the broad outlines of this theory. Klein divides the first year of h u m a n life into t w o periods, or "positions," the first dominated by anxiety over external and internal threats to the preservation of the ego (the "paranoid-schizoid position") and the second characterized principally by anxiety about dangers felt to threaten the loved parent as a result of the infant's fantasized aggressions (the "depressive position"). Also crucial are the notion of a defensive mechanism preceding repression, a mechanism that would involve the splitting of the introjected object into a good one and a bad one; the contention that Oedipal conflicts and the development of a superego take place much earlier than Freud thought; finally, the fundamental a r g u m e n t — o n which everything else depends—about the importance of fantasy f r o m almost the very beginning of life. If we

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accept the a r g u m e n t about fantasy, then w e should also recognize that Klein's scenarios of infantile violence, for all their apparent extravagance, rigorously and brilliantly spell o u t the consequences for o u r object relations of those destructive desires that Freud had already associated w i t h infantile sexuality. Klein traces the history of the infant's a t t e m p t s to deal w i t h the anxieties engendered b y a sexuality that is bom as aggression. T h i s history begins at birth. A c o m p l e x n o n v e r b a l syntax of fantasmatic i n t r o jections and projections constitutes the infantile ego's defenses against internal and external bad objects, against, perhaps m o s t p r o f o u n d l y , its o w n impulses to destroy b o t h itself and the objects it loves. Sublimation becomes, in this view, the infant's m o s t sophisticated d e fense against its o w n aggressions. T h e a w e s o m e nature of this defensive enterprise can be u n d e r s t o o d f r o m the following description in the essay " T h e Early D e v e l o p m e n t of Conscience in the C h i l d " : In attacking its mother's inside . . . the child is attacking a great number of objects, and is embarking on a course which is fraught with consequences. The womb first stands for the world; and the child originally approaches this world with desires to attack and destroy it, and is therefore prepared from the outset to view the real, external world as more or less hostile to itself, and peopled with objects ready to make attacks upon it. Its belief that in thus attacking its mother's body it has also attacked its father and its brothers and sisters, and, in a wider sense the whole world, is, in my experience, one of the underlying causes of its sense of guilt, and of the development of its social and moral feelings in general. For when the excessive severity of the super-ego has become somewhat lessened, its visitations upon the ego on account of those imaginary attacks induce feelings of guilt which arouse strong tendencies in the child to make good the imaginary damage it has done to its objects. And now the individual content and details of its destructive phantasies help to determine the development of its sublimations, which indirectly subserve its restitutive tendencies, or to produce even more direct desires to help other people. 7 Sublimations have n o w b e c o m e symbolic reparations, and in the light of the n e w concept Klein has b e g u n to m o d i f y the entire process outlined in "Early Analysis." In a 1930 reference to that essay Klein, speaking once again of Ferenczi's and Jones's notions of identification and s y m b o l f o r m a t i o n , writes: "I can n o w add to w h a t I said then . . . and state that, side by side w i t h the libidinal interest, it is the anxiety arising in the phase that I have described [of "excessive s a d i s m " t o w a r d the m o t h e r ] w h i c h sets going the m e c h a n i s m of identification." F r o m this point on, the e m phasis is on identification not as an a t t e m p t e d repetition of pleasure b u t as an attempted flight f r o m anxiety. T h e child conceives a dread of the organs it wishes to destroy (Klein m e n t i o n s "penis, vagina, breasts"), and "this anxiety contributes to m a k e h i m equate the organs in question

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with other things; owing to this equation these in their turn become o b jects of anxiety, and so he is impelled constantly to make other and n e w equations, which f o r m the basis of his interest in the new objects and of symbolism." In this way, Klein concludes, "not only does symbolism come to be the foundation of all phantasy and sublimation, but, m o r e than that, it is the basis of the subject's relation to the outside world and to reality in general." Generalized anxiety has m o r e or less replaced generalized libidinal interest. M o r e precisely, symbolism deflects anxiety by bringing "into phantasy the sadistic relation to the mother's b o d y . " 8 This process will be described in somewhat m o r e positive terms in subsequent formulations (Klein will assert that love for the first objects must be maintained in successful sublimations), but even then symbols remain "substitute objects." That is, whatever the distribution of anxiety and love may be in the move f r o m the mother's body and the child's fantasized contacts with her body, to other objects and other activities, the latter have n o w become, in Kleinian theory, restored versions of the former. In what sense can these new relations properly be called object relations? In the sublimating process outlined in "Early Analysis," libidinalized ego interests are not substitutes for some original (but n o w repressed) pleasure. In that version of sublimation, sexuality provides the energy of sublimating interests without defining their terms. We would have, as I have suggested, a nonallusive or nonreferential version of sexualized mental activities; as a result, the sexualization of those activities could be thought of as a heightening rather than as a blurring of their specificity. But f r o m the perspective of Klein's later theory of sublimation, the ego's " n e w " object relations are, by definition, new relations to old fantasy objects. Originally the ego is involved in a relation to a real other body (the mother's) but, curiously enough, as the ego develops, its relations become more spectral or fantasmatic. T h e objects and interests that symbolically represent the subject's early relation to the world of objects are restitutive repetitions of those early relations, which means that they fantasmatically recreate what was already a fantasmatic r e m o d eling of the world. These new sublimations arc, as it were, at t w o removes f r o m any real objects; they are fantasy reparations of fantasy destructions. We can see the basis for a return to Proust in this psychoanalytic echo of the Proustian notion of art as a redemptive replication of damaged or worthless experience: in both cases, sublimations integrate, unify, and restore. But this restorative activity would make no sense if it were not being performed on earlier or original experience. T h e very function of art in Proust would be threatened if it introduced us to a world of authentic difference: in an aesthetic of reparation, the artist's life—a life at

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once "translated" and made " m o r e real"—is the only legitimate subject of art. Klein herself points to the solipsistic nature of this operation w h e n , in " A C o n t r i b u t i o n to the Psycho-Genesis of M a n i c - D e p r e s s i v e States," she traces " t h e desire for perfection" to " t h e depressive anxiety of disintegration, w h i c h is thus of great i m p o r t a n c e in all s u b l i m a t i o n s . " She speaks of patients w h o have "a beautiful picture of the m o t h e r , b u t one w h i c h was felt to be a picture of her only, n o t her real self. T h e real object was felt to be unattractive—really an injured, incurable and therefore dreaded p e r s o n . " 9 W h a t is restored therefore never existed; the " p e r f e c t " object is n o t h i n g m o r e than a function of the attacked object. A n d this is by n o means true only of disturbed o r neurotic patients. Insofar as the process of idealization "is derived f r o m the need to be protected f r o m persecuting objects, it is a m e t h o d of defense against anxiety." 1 0 Excessive idealization denotes that persecution is the main driving f o r c e , " 1 1 b u t the logic of Kleinian theory w o u l d , I think, allow us to rephrase this as: " S o m e degree of persecution is always the m o t i v a t i n g force of any degree of idealization." If the sublimated object is b y definition an idealized o b j e c t — b o t h a mental construct and a " b e t t e r " (repaired and m a d e whole) version of an originally dangerous, injured, and f r a g m e n t e d o b j e c t — w e can also say that sublimation is disguised as transcendence. 1 2 Intellectually valuable pursuits and aesthetically pleasing objects are, in this view, disguised repetitions of an infantile defense against infantile aggressions. M y aim is neither to deny n o r to defend the validity of this t h e o r y of sublimation. It may in fact be the case, as Jean Laplanche has suggested, that sublimation has t w o quite different m o d e s of operation: o n e corres p o n d i n g to w h a t Klein described in "Early Analysis" as the i n v e s t m e n t of ego interests w i t h a kind of floating or suspended sexual energy, and the other corresponding to the appropriation of the entire cultural field either as "substitute objects" for the desired and feared objects or as a repository of m o r e or less socially useful activities in w h i c h the aims of sexuality can be symbolically deflected. 1 3 Significantly, a theoretical shift or hesitation analogous to Klein's can also be located in Freud. It could be s h o w n , for example, that while p r o p o s i n g in the first chapter of his essay on L e o n a r d o da Vinci a view of sublimation very m u c h like the o n e outlined in " E a r l y Analysis," Freud nonetheless goes on to treat L e o nardo's w o r k as psychologically c o m p e n s a t o r y and s y m p t o m a t i c . Indeed, far f r o m pursuing a concept of sublimation as an appropriation and elaboration of sexual impulses, Freud will c o m e to consider s u b limation as o n e of the desexualizing activities of the e g o — a n activity that, f u r t h e r m o r e , makes the ego particularly vulnerable to the death instinct. This shift, I think, m u s t be u n d e r s t o o d in connection w i t h the development of a theory of the ego as itself constituted b y a partially desexualizing process of identification w i t h lost or a b a n d o n e d love o b -

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jects. From the point of view of the tripartite systemic view of the mind elaborated in The Ego and the Id (1923), sublimation would be a relation to objects that is structurally determined by the already established relations among those internalized and lost objects which make u p an ego and a superego. 1 4 In Freud, and particularly in Klein, the kinds of spectral repetitions on which art in Proust seems to depend are presented as a goal of normative development. What I have wished to suggest is that such theories of the restitutive or redemptive power of cultural forms and activities are t h e m selves symptomatic versions of the very process they p u r p o r t to explain. Both this process and its theoretical legitimations give us extraordinarily diminished views of both our sexuality and our cultural imagination. T h e forms of culture become transparent and—at least f r o m an interpretive point of view—dismissible: they are, ultimately, regressive attempts to make up for failed experience. And the fragmenting and destructive aspects of sexuality gain the ambiguous dignity of haunting the invisible depths of all h u m a n activity. Sexuality is consecrated as violence by virtue of the very definition of culture as an unceasing effort to make life whole, to repair a world attacked by desire. A fundamentally meaningless culture thus ennobles gravely damaged experience. O r , to put this in other terms, art redeems the catastrophe of history. 15 To play this role, art must preserve what might be called a moral m o n u m e n t a l i t y — a requirement that explains, I believe, much of the mistrust in the m o d e r n period of precisely those m o d e r n works that have m o r e or less violently rejected any such edifying and petrifying functions. Claims for the high morality of art may conceal a deep horror of life. And yet nothing perhaps is m o r e frivolous than that horror, since it carries within it the conviction that, because of the achievements of culture, the disasters of history s o m e h o w do not matter. Everything can be made up, can be made over again, and the absolute singularity of h u m a n experience—the source of both its tragedy and its beauty—is thus dissipated in the trivializing nobility of a redemption through art. *

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What are—to draw a final interpretive circle—the dangers of desire in Proust? Let us first of all acknowledge the outlines of a novel of happy desire in La Recherche, of a desire that exuberantly dismembers its o b jects. There is a Baudelairean mobility of desire in Proust, an extravagant excess of desirous fantasy over a presumed original object of desire. Like Baudelaire, the Proustian narrator shows desire cutting persons into bits and pieces, happily transforming t h e m into partial objects. Perhaps no volume is m o r e abundant than A I'Ombres desjeuttes filles ertfleur in what might be called the appetitive metonymies of desire, the simultaneous

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reduction and enrichment of Albertine and her friends t h r o u g h those extrahuman associations by which, for example, they are metamorphosed into stems of roses profiled against the sea. If Marcel's desires here are, as he claims, never for persons ( " T h e most exclusive love for a person is always a love for something else" [1:891; 1:833]), it is because those desires are too impatient for any such psychologically constitutive and reflective activity. Indeed, the constitution of persons is linked to the emergence of a novel of ««happy desire, a novel that depends, we might say, on Marcel's misreading of the otherness inherent in desire. Desire becomes identical to anxiety as soon as Marcel begins to understand the disappearance of the object not as a function of the energy of his desire but rather as the consequence of an evil intention on the part of the other. T h u s desire's mobility is interpreted paranoiacally: the other has a secret, and that secret is itself a desire excluding Marcel. Significantly, it is n o w that the other is reconstituted as a personality—as a psychological individual w h o can make Marcel suffer. T h u s what would appear to be a humanizing of the o t h e r — t h e transformation of Albertine f r o m a " m o m e n t " or unit in the metonymic chain of desires into a young girl with a particular history and particular desires—is actually a tactic of intended mastery over the other. O n l y as a person can Albertine perhaps be penetrated and made to suffer; the desexualization of desire and the invention of character are, in Proust, the preconditions for a ruthless if futile effort to absorb the other. T h e most radical manifestation of this effort is of course Marcel's imprisonment of Albertine in his Paris apartment. T h e motive for the imprisonment, recorded in the remarkable final pages of Sodome et Gomorrhe, is the discovery that Albertine is a friend of Mile. Vinteuil and of her female lover. We return once again to an involuntary memory, this time to the most painful one of all: Albertine's revelation catapults Marcel back to the lesbian scene between those two young w o m e n he had w i t nessed years before through the w i n d o w of Vinteuil's h o m e at M o n t j o u vain. O n c e he feels convinced of Albertine's lesbianism, the only truthful way to portray her relation to h i m would be " t o place Albertine, not at a certain distance f r o m me, but inside m e " (2:1154; 2:1116). What is this internalized yet impenetrable otherness? To repeat the psychological law I just quoted: " T h e most exclusive love for a person is always the love of something else." If the narrator occasionally encourages us to understand this as a formulation of desire's mobility (to desire Albertine is to desire a certain type of seascape), it can also be taken to summarize the novel's more frequent demonstrations of desire's fixity. A certain resemblance among the w o m e n we love, the narrator writes, can be traced to "the fixity of our o w n temperament"; the different loved ones are nothing more than a product of that t e m -

24

The Corrective Will

perament, " a n image, an inverted projection, a negative of o u r sensibility" (1:955; 1:894). Is it possible, then, to see one's o w n t e m p e r a m e n t or sensibility apart f r o m these alien images of desire? T h e narrator's discovery of repetition in desire (of similarities a m o n g the w o m e n he p u r sues) leads h i m to a question a b o u t himself analogous to the one w e have seen him ask a b o u t others. Jealousy of the other is the paranoid i n t e r p r e tation of desire's mobility. But, t o w a r d the end of La Prisonniere, the narrator writes: " A s there is n o k n o w l e d g e , one m i g h t almost say that there is n o jealousy, save of o n e s e l f " ( 3 : 3 9 2 - 3 9 3 ; 3:386), w h i c h suggests that the withheld secret Marcel anxiously pursues in others may be the projected secret, the fantasy f o r m u l a , of his o w n desires. T h e m o s t accurate sexual m e t a p h o r for a hopeless pursuit of one's o w n desire is u n d o u b t e d l y the heterosexual's jealousy of h o m o s e x u a l i t y in the other sex. I spoke of Albertine's sudden displacement f r o m outside Marcel to inside Marcel as the internalization of an impenetrable o t h e r ness. I should n o w refine this f o r m u l a : first of all, it is her inwardness that Marcel has internalized. T h e Albertine n o w m a k i n g h i m suffer within himself is not the b o d y that m a d e an excited Marcel m o v e f r o m her to the sea but, instead, the desiring Albertine, the girl w h o could give Marcel the key to her desires b y letting h i m hear " t h e strange s o u n d of her pleasure (le son inconnu de sajouissance)" (2:1154; 2:1117). T h i s internalized interiority of otherness is, for Marcel, the experienced otherness of his o w n interiority. Albertine's lesbianism represents a nearly i n c o n ceivable yet inescapable identity of sameness and otherness in Marcel's desires; lesbianism is a relation of sameness that Marcel is c o n d e m n e d to see as an irreducibly u n k n o w a b l e otherness. H e shares Albertine's love for w o m e n , b u t not her p o i n t of view: f r o m w h a t perspective of anticipated pleasures does she seek o u t bodies in w h i c h she will find r e m i n d e r s of her o w n ? T h u s in the final pages of Sodome et Gomorrhe the banal thematization of h o m o s e x u a l i t y in the essay that opens the v o l u m e — a thematization at once sentimental and reductive—is b r u s h e d aside (as is the secondary and, in a sense, merely anecdotal question of "sexual p r e f erence") by an extraordinary reflection on w h a t m i g h t be called the n e cessity of h o m o s e x u a l i t y in a universal heterosexual relation of all h u m a n subjects to their o w n desires. T h e last pages of Sodome et Gomorrhe depict several agitated displacements. Marcel is t h r o w n back to the scene at M o n t j o u v a i n and to the anguish of the drame du coucher at C o m b r a y ; Albertine moves f r o m s o m e w h e r e outside Marcel to s o m e w h e r e within him; and, in an echo of the passage w e began by considering, Marcel's m o t h e r , as she enters his hotel r o o m at d a w n , resembles her m o t h e r so strongly that Marcel m o m e n tarily w o n d e r s if his g r a n d m o t h e r has been " r e s u r r e c t e d . " T h e s e dis-

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25

placements and metamorphoses bring us back to what has always been a central question in La Recherche: h o w does one thing evoke another? O r , more fundamentally, what are the modes of mobility in consciousness? The Proustian protagonist is always asking questions about what lies behind phenomena. There is a more or less happy version of this m o v e m e n t at Combray, in Marcel's anticipation that the spectacles of nature will "open u p " and reveal "the secret of truth and of beauty" behind them. But the final pages of Sodome et Gomorrhe introduce us to the anguish of transcendence: "Behind Albertine," the narrator writes, "I no longer saw the blue mountains of the sea, but the r o o m at Montjouvain where she was falling into the arms of Mile Vinteuil with that laugh in which she gave utterance, as it were, to the strange sound of her pleasure" (2:1154; 2:1117). T h e narrator conceives of both the happy and the unhappy examples of this movement as leading to a kind of truth: to the essences behind natural phenomena, to the presumed reality of Albertine's desires. But Sodome et Gomorrhe suggests that the truth behind appearances may be nothing more than a degraded version of appearances, a kind of shadowy simulacrum. T h e spectralizing effect on reality of this m o v e m e n t into t r u t h — o f this essentializing or antiphenomenal movement—is obliquely indicated by the narrator's description, on the last page of Sodome et Gomorrhe, of the dawn as a kind of abstract or unreal sunset. Looking out of his w i n d o w at the end of the sleepless night following Albertine's revelation, Marcel finds, in the new day, reminders of evening: both in the sight of the woods that he and Albertine, after a late afternoon nap, would often leave at sunset, and in the spectacle of boats that Marcel had frequently seen bathed in the oblique light of sunset as they returned to harbor in the evening and that are n o w illuminated by the slanting rays of the rising sun. T h u s dawn evokes dusk, but dusk perceived as "an imaginary scene, chilling and deserted, a pure evocation of a sunset which did not rest, as at evening, upon the sequence of the hours of the day which I was accustomed to see precede it, detached, interpolated, m o r e insubstantial even than the horrible image of M o n t j o u v a i n which it did not succeed in cancelling, covering, concealing—a poetical, vain image of m e m o r y and dreams" (2:1168; 2:1130). In the sickening inconsistency of this false sameness, we are far f r o m the presumed Proustian ecstasy of metaphorical equivalents. Here that trembling of surfaces—often the sign of a revelatory intrusion of essences and of t e m poral depths into the world of perceived phenomena—is repeated as a kind of contamination of nature itself by Marcel's willful and anguished pursuit of the truth of desire, of desire reduced to its essential formula. The perception of a certain type of light c o m m o n to dawn and dusk is

26

The Corrective

Will

experienced as the nausea of i n h a b i t i n g the desert o f m e t a p h o r i c a l essences, and it p r o v o k e s in Marcel a nostalgia f o r the " i m p u r i t i e s " o f t e m poral sequences and contexts. I p r o p o s e that w e consider this scenc as an u n i n t e n d e d e m b l e m of an aesthetic of art as t r u t h d i v o r c e d f r o m p h e n o m e n a , a t r u t h seen here as merely an evocative sameness, an exact yet alien repetition o f p h e n o m e n a . In the m y t h o f art as b o t h a translation of life and as m o r e real or m o r e essential than life, the i m a g i n a r y adheres to t h e real n o t in o r d e r to i m p a r t an existential a u t h o r i t y o r legitimacy t o art, b u t instead t o r e p r o d u c e the real w i t h o u t any such authority, to d e m o n s t r a t e the s u p e r i o r i t y of the i m a g e to t h e m o d e l . A n d yet, precisely because o f this adherence, t h e " s u b s t i t u t e o b j e c t s " o f art c o n t i n u o u s l y r e m i n d us o f the objects they are m e a n t to annihilate o r transcend; w h a t p u r p o r t s t o b e an essentializing repetition t u r n s o u t t o be the s y m b o l i c r e m i n d e r , t h e s y m bolic s y m p t o m , of p h e n o m e n a at once erased a n d indelible. A n d yet, as in Klein, w c have seen hints in P r o u s t o f a quite different v i e w of t h e s u b l i m a t i n g activity o f art. I have s p o k e n of t h e i n v o l u n t a r y m e m o r y that resurrects Marcel's g r a n d m o t h e r as possibly, a n d p a r a d o x i cally, i n a u g u r a t i n g a presence at last freed f r o m Marcel's a p p r o p r i a t i o n of that presence, and I have referred to t h e appetitive m e t o n y m i e s o f desire in A l'Ombre des jeunes filles en fleur. If consciousness in P r o u s t seeks m o s t f r e q u e n t l y to g o behind objects, there is also a m o v e — w h o l l y different in its c o n s e q u e n c e s — t o the side of objects. In t h e passage w e have been considering f r o m Sodome et Gomorrhe, t h e e n c o u r a g e m e n t t o m a k e t h e latter m o v e c o m e s f r o m an u n e x p e c t e d source. In o r d e r to distract Marcel f r o m his suffering, and t o k e e p h i m f r o m losing " t h e benefit of a spectacle w h i c h [his] g r a n d m o t h e r used to regret that [he] never w a t c h e d , " his m o t h e r points to the w i n d o w (2:1167; 2:1129). B u t w h i l e she thus encourages a lateral m o b i l i t y away f r o m her a n d f r o m t h e hotel r o o m and t o w a r d the sea, t h e beach, t h e sunrise, Marcel sees behind t h e sea, the beach, and the sunrise the spectacle of A l b e r t i n e at M o n t j o u v a i n w i t h Mile. Vinteuil. H o w e v e r little Marcel appears to attend t o it, w e m a y nonetheless consider the m o t h e r ' s gesture as an instructive r e m i n d e r of the p o w e r of appearances to defeat w h a t m a y be i m a g i n e d t o lie " b e h i n d " t h e m . O r , to p u t this in t e r m s I have already used, w e could say that Marcel's m o t h e r seeks to distract h i m f r o m his hallucinated t r a n s c e n dence of p h e n o m e n a a n d t h e r e b y to point, ultimately, to the possibility of pursuing not an art of truth divorced from experience, but of phenomena liberated from the obsession with truth. Still the substance of the v e r y passage in w h i c h this possibility is raised appears to preclude it. N o t only does Marcel see M o n t j o u v a i n b e h i n d t h e spectacle o f sea and sun; m o r e f u n d a m e n t a l l y , the rising sun b e c o m e s a lurid m e t a p h o r f o r Marcel's f u t u r e inability not t o see b e h i n d such spec-

Death and Literary Authority

21

tacles, f o r t h e r e d u c t i o n o f t h e w o r l d t o a m o n o t o n o u s a n d i n e l u c t a b l e reflection o f his s u f f e r i n g : And thinking of all the indifferent landscapes which were about to be lit up and which, only yesterday, would have filled me simply with the desire to visit them, I could not repress a sob when, with a gesture of oblation mechanically performed and symbolizing, in my eyes, the bloody sacrifice which I was about to have to make of all joy, every morning, until the end of my life, a solemn renewal, celebrated as each day dawned, of my daily grief and of the blood f r o m my wound, the golden egg of the sun, as though propelled by the rupture of equilibrium brought about at the m o m e n t of coagulation by a change of density, barbed with tongues of flame as in a painting, burst through the curtain behind which one had sensed it quivering for a moment, ready to appear on the scene and to spring forward, and whose mysterious frozen purple it annihilated in a flood of light (crem d'un bond le rideau derriere lequel on le sentait depuis un moment fremissant et pret a entrer en scene et ä s'elancer, et dont il effa(a sous des flots de lumiere la pourpre mysterieuse et figee). (2:1166; 2:1128) " T h e b l o o d y sacrifice o f all j o y " t h a t M a r c e l sees s y m b o l i z e d in t h e s p e c tacle o f t h e s u n l i g h t b u r s t i n g i n t o his r o o m is t h e sacrifice o f t h e spectacle itself. It is t h e sacrifice o f t h e p l e a s u r e he h a d earlier k n o w n o f a n t i c i p a t i n g scenes f r o m w h i c h h e is a b s e n t , l a n d s c a p e s b e n e f i c e n t l y resistant t o his n e e d t o f i n d h i m s e l f in t h e m . T h e s e w a v e s o f l i g h t s y m b o l i z e t h e i r o w n p a t h e t i c availability t o t h e s y m b o l i c i m a g i n a t i o n . B u t t h e n a r r a t o r ' s a c c o u n t o f t h a t past m o m e n t p a r t i a l l y d e f e a t s its s y m b o l i c c o n t e n t : its l i t e r a r y r e f o r m u l a t i o n h e l p s t o desymbolize it. T h e s e n t e n c e I h a v e q u o t e d reinstates lost a p p e a r a n c e s . Far f r o m b e i n g erased in t h e b u r s t o f s u n l i g h t , "la p o u r p r e m y s t e r i e u s e et f i g e e " o f t h e c u r t a i n i s — v e r b a l l y — h i g h l i g h t e d . P l a c e d at t h e e n d o f this l o n g s e n t e n c e in w h i c h t h e skeletal s t r u c t u r e has itself b e e n n e a r l y b u r i e d b y all t h e m o d i f y i n g p h r a s e s a n d clauses, t h e c u r t a i n n e g a t e s its o w n d i s a p p e a r a n c e a n d appears—climactically a n d t r i u m p h a n t l y (if also m i s t a k e n l y ) — a s t h e s t r o n g e s t p r e s e n c e o f t h e r e m e m b e r e d scene. S y n t a c t i c r e s o u r c e s o p e r a t ing independently of the impulse to symbolize "save" the purple curtain b o t h f r o m b e i n g erased b y t h e sun's g o l d e n l i g h t and f r o m h a v i n g t h a t l u m i n o u s e r a s u r e i n t e r p r e t e d as a m e r e s y m b o l o f M a r c e l ' s p a i n . L i k e t h e r e s u r r e c t i o n s o f i n v o l u n t a r y m e m o r y , t h e r e t u r n t o t h e p a s t in l i t e r a t u r e m e a n s a certain loss o f M a r c e l as a n a c t o r in t h a t past a n d results in an u n p r e c e d e n t e d visibility o f past a p p e a r a n c e s . T h e d e a t h o f t h e past is also a l i b e r a t i o n f r o m t h e c o n s t r a i n t s o f a n x i o u s desire, c o n s t r a i n t s t h a t t h r e a t e n e d t o erase t h e p h e n o m e n a l d i v e r s i t y o f t h e w o r l d f r o m t h e field of Marcel's troubled vision. T h u s t h e m o v e t o art in La Recherche is n o t o n l y an a n n i h i l a t i n g a n d r e d e m p t i v e r e p l i c a t i o n o f e x p e r i e n c e ; it also m a k e s p o s s i b l e a k i n d o f

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The Corrective Will

posthumous responsiveness to surfaces, a redefining enactment of M a r cel's interest in the world. From this perspective, art would be our "real life" not in the sense of an essentializing version of experience, but rather as a first or original (but originally missed) contact with phenomena. The reappearance of the world in Marcel's book is perhaps anticipated by his mother's pointing to a spectacle that her son will take in only w h e n he gives it back to the world, this time as literature. In a final, Kleinian version of that maternal lesson—a version faithful to Proust's unsophisticated and salutary insistence (already formulated by the g r a n d m o t h e r in Combray) that consciousness profit f r o m art (that the only just criticism is a moral criticism)—let us say that the occasions of our interest in reality far exceed the range of our symbolic use of the real to rewrite a history of anxious desire. Furthermore, for Marcel—but perhaps not only for Marcel—to desymbolize reality may be the precondition for reeroticizing reality. O n the basis of this rapid reading of Proust and the Klein of "Early Analysis," I will—especially in the sections on Baudelaire and Bataille—be seeking to define the terms of an erotic art independent of the anxieties inherent in desire. N o longer a corrective replay of anxious fantasy, such an art may even reinstate a curiously disinterested m o d e of desire for objects, a m o d e of excitement that, far f r o m investing objects with symbolic significance, would enhance their specificity and thereby fortify their resistance to the violence of symbolic intent.

CHAPTER

2

Erotic Assumptions: Narcissism and Sublimation

in Freud

Homosexuals do not have anal characters. This is the rigorously logical conclusion of the genealogy of character that Freud proposes in his 1908 essay "Character and Anal Eroticism." Freud himself, it is true, presents the conclusion somewhat more tentatively: if, he writes, there is "any basis in fact" for the relation he has just sketched between certain character traits and anal eroticism, then "one may expect to find no very marked degree of 'anal character' in people who have retained the anal zone's erotogenic character in adult life, as happens, for instance, with certain homosexuals. Unless I am much mistaken, the evidence of experience tallies quite well on the whole with this inference." 1 The strength of anal character traits is directly proportionate to the weakness or even the absence of anal pleasures in an individual's sexual life. Children whose rebellious or idiosyncratic reactions to toilet training point to an exceptionally strong "erotogenicity of the anal zone"—an erotogenicity, Freud suggests, perhaps genetically determined—lose that zone as a privileged area of pleasure as they grow up. But they develop "character traits of orderliness, parsimony and obstinacy," which "are to be regarded as the first and most constant results of the sublimation of anal erotism" (170-71). "Character and Anal Erotism" was one of Freud's most scandalous performances. Today we are more likely to think of its thesis as a prime example of Freudian reductionism than as a shocking and epoch-making discovery in the history of psychoanalysis. And yet the somewhat coarse intellectual argument of the essay reformulates one of psychoanalysis' most original and disturbing questions: does the nonsexual exist? And if it does (as Freud consistently maintained), where exactly does it begin? Recognizably sexual pleasure is, after all, only the tip of the sexual iceberg: psychoanalysis has taught us to read dreams, jokes, the accidents of ordinary language, character traits, games, and works of art as disguised expressions of a variety of sexual excitements. The anal sensitivity

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The Corrective Will

of Freud's homosexual obviates the need for an anal character; the latter (the triad of orderliness, parsimony, and obstinacy) is at once a deflection of certain bodily pleasures away f r o m the body and the legitimizing guarantee of their permanence. Like all sexual pleasures, anality is not circumscribed by the zone that gives it its name; for psychoanalysis, sexuality is a specific type of psychic infection. Freudianism is perhaps the most radical of modern efforts to break (and to account for) our civilization's fascination with the m i n d - b o d y dualism and to map what might be called the characterological and cultural migrations of bodily intensities. H o w does sexuality repeat itself? T h e mapping of this spread of the sexual is unproblematic so long as sexuality reproduces itself symptomatically. T h e Freudian cartographer needs certain specialized talents—those of an expert in symptomatological hermeneutics—but once he has acquired those talents, he can easily enough read back f r o m the nonsexual to the sexual. This is exactly what Freud does in "Character and Anal Eroticism," where orderliness, parsimony, and obstinacy are traced back to such anal pleasures in childhood as fecal incontinence, bowel retention, and "doing all sorts of unseemly things with the feces that had been passed" (9:170). Anal character traits "give exactly the impression of a reaction-formation against an interest in what is unclean and disturbing and should not be part of the b o d y " (9:172). A forbidden pleasure is n o w negatively represented—at once denied and partially satisfied—in a character trait: the interest in feces becomes an obsession with cleanliness. We would have what is essentially a neurotic structure: a repressed impulse and an element of conscious behavior that is both a defense against and an expression of this impulse. Anal character traits can thus be thought of as constituting a kind of character neurosis, as a massive structural reaction against the subject's being stuck or blocked at the anal stage of sexual development. T h e libidinal energy that invests orderliness, parsimony and obstinacy is anally fixated energy. Fixated, and yet also free-floating. Because the explicit emphasis of "Character and Anal Eroticism" is centripetal (all the traits and activities described by Freud go back toward the anus), we may miss the essay's centrifugal pull. For Freud is at least implicitly arguing that even a sexual drive as fixated as anal eroticism is comparatively indifferent to the o b jects and activities by which it can be satisfied. M o r e succinctly, the anus can become irrelevant to anal eroticism. It is as if—and we recognize an echo here of a central assumption in the Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality—in sexuality almost anything will do the j o b . A sexual drive as specific as anal eroticism will make do with a compulsively renewed emptying of ashtrays or a bibliographical compilation. It will s o m e h o w coerce those activities into producing sensations not unlike those that

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31

characterize the pleasures of fecal r e t e n t i o n a n d e x p u l s i o n — i n t o p r o d u c ing w h a t m i g h t be called abstract sensations, the pleasures of r e t e n t i o n and expulsion u n a t t a c h e d to a retaining o r expelling o r g a n . T h e anal character w o u l d , in short, express s o m e t h i n g like the e s s e n c e — w e m i g h t even say t h e Platonic I d e a — o f anal eroticism. It is p e r h a p s o n l y at this level o f abstraction that t h e anal character escapes being an o x y m o r o n . In a n y case, t h e plasticity of t h e anal erotic d r i v e — i t s nearly p r o m i s c u o u s availability to a variety o f character traits and activities—suggests that t h e n o t i o n of fixated sexual e n e r g y is, at t h e v e r y least, h i g h l y p r o b l e m a t i c . T h e m o b i l i t y of t h e anal drive p u t s i n t o q u e s t i o n its identification as an anal drive. O r , t o p u t this a n o t h e r way: t h e sexualization o f a character trait ruins definitional stability n o t o n l y w i t h respect to t h e character trait (orderliness can n o l o n g e r be d e f i n e d m e r e l y as the love of order), b u t also w i t h respect t o the drive p r e s u m e d t o be its source. Freud is o f c o u r s e far f r o m saying in " C h a r a c t e r a n d Anal E r o t i c i s m " that t h e sexualizing process is i n h e r e n t l y a threat t o readability. Indeed the essay is f a m o u s — a n d was originally t h o u g h t to be i n f a m o u s — f o r p r o p o s i n g j u s t t h e opposite: w e are told t o read parsim o n y , f o r e x a m p l e , as a repetition of t h e pleasure of fecal r e t e n t i o n . A n d yet Freud also hesitates to equate character f o r m a t i o n (even anal character f o r m a t i o n ) w i t h s y m p t o m f o r m a t i o n , t h e r e b y s u g g e s t i n g that such traits are less accountable to specific sexual drives than his o w n a r g u m e n t in this essay appears to suggest. R e f e r r i n g to his earlier discussion, in Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, of the b o d y ' s " e r o t o g e n i c z o n e s " ( " t h e genitals, m o u t h , anus, u r e t h r a " ) , Freud writes: " t h e a m o u n t s of excitation c o m i n g in f r o m these parts o f t h e b o d y d o n o t all u n d e r g o the same vicissitudes, n o r is the fate of all of t h e m t h e s a m e at every p e r i o d o f life. Generally speaking, o n l y a part o f t h e m is m a d e use o f in sexual life; a n o t h e r part is deflected f r o m sexual aims and directed t o w a r d o t h e r s — a process w h i c h deserves t h e n a m e o f ' s u b l i m a t i o n ' " (9:171). T h r o u g h o u t his w o r k F r e u d will f r e q u e n t l y r e t u r n t o this definition of the s u b l i m a t i n g process as a c h a n g e in instinctual aims. C h a r a c t e r and culture, it w o u l d appear, are fueled b y " u n s e r v i c e a b l e " sexuality; they arc constitutively a pis aller, outlets f o r impulses that m u s t be set aside b u t c a n n o t be erased in n o r m a l sexual d e v e l o p m e n t . Q u a n t i t i e s of pregenital libido w h o s e aims w o u l d t h r e a t e n t h e h e g e m o n y of the genital have to be e x c h a n g e d f o r s o m e t h i n g else, and, f r o m the p o i n t o f v i e w of libidinal e c o n o m y , it doesn't m a k e m u c h difference if that s o m e t h i n g else is the character trait of p a r s i m o n y o r t h e activity of reading b o o k s . T h u s it w o u l d seem that a culturally h i g h a i m consists in t h e r e p r e s e n tation of a sexually l o w aim. T h i s v i e w of s u b l i m a t i o n as a miserly h o a r d i n g and recycling of oral a n d anal energies m a y strike us as an u n -

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The Corrective Will

intended textbook example of anal theorizing. And yet, in an extremely interesting way, Freud suggests that what is hoarded is also lost or squandered. If the excitement derived f r o m the erotogenic zones can invest character traits without undergoing repression, the anal character of formerly anal excitement may be dissipated or spent. 2 Freud writes that contributions are " m a d e by numerous constituents and c o m p o n e n t instincts" to something like a pool of sexual drives, drives that change their original aims without being compelled to do so by the barriers of repression (9:170). While the impossibility of fulfilling a certain aim can of course lead to repression, before repression takes place there may be, as it were, an escape, a leakage of that blocked sexual energy into other, unrelated aims. T h e question remains unanswered of h o w much these new or sublimating aims are " i n f o r m e d " b y — o r to what extent they can be interpreted in terms o f — t h e sexual impulses whose aims have been inhibited. We are not after all dealing here with what Melanie Klein theorized in her early work as suspended or superfluous libido, that is, with sexual energy in excess of any particular sexual drive. But neither are we dealing with the fixated energy of repressed sexual drives, drives desperately seeking to disguise themselves in ego activities that will at least partially satisfy them. Like the early Klein, Freud seems interested in defining a sexualizing ego activity minimally determined—if at all—by sexual drives f r o m the subject's past. To account for this activity, a concept different f r o m that of s y m p t o m or reaction formation is clearly needed, and indeed the notion of sublimation might lend itself to the description of a nonspecific type of sexual activity—that is, sexual activity no longer attached to particular acts. Freud's parsimonious theory of character formation—a theory that can be interpretively reduced to the very c o m plexes it offers as explanatory models—is undermined by its ambiguous inclusion of sublimation a m o n g the processes by which character is formed. That is, in the notion of repression-free sublimation, the theory is itself sublimated into a concept that both exemplifies and accounts for a differential (and nonsymptomatic) repetition of sexual or intellectual energies. In sublimation, then, criteria of content could no longer be used to help us to recognize the sexualization of higher ego activities. I will return to this peculiar idea of a sexuality independent of sex; for the m o ment, I want to draw attention to Freud's hesitation, in "Character and Anal Eroticism," about whether sublimation should be distinguished f r o m reaction formation. Immediately after the sentence in which he defines the deflection f r o m sexual aims as a sublimating process, Freud describes reaction formations "such as shame, disgust and morality" that "rise like dams to oppose the later activity" of sexual drives; anal eroti-

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33

cism, having thus b e c o m c "unserviceable for sexual a i m s , " is sublimated into orderliness, p a r s i m o n y and obstinacy (9:171). H e r e sublimation seems to be merely the final step in the process of reaction f o r m a t i o n , although the disguised s y m p t o m a t i c expression of a d a m m e d - u p (should I also say "repressed"?) anal eroticism w o u l d appear to be quite different f r o m a nonsymbolic repetition of excitement once connected w i t h sexual drives. Indeed the last sentence of Freud's essay explicitly formalizes the difference between the t w o processes: " t h e p e r m a n e n t character-traits are either unchanged prolongations of the original instincts, or sublimations of those instincts, or reaction-formations against t h e m " (9:175). *

*

*

Should character traits be called neurotic s y m p t o m s , reaction f o r m a tions, or sublimations? A n d to w h a t extent are these processes i n d e p e n dent of one another? M o s t i m p o r t a n t , w h a t is at stake in Freud's shifting position on these questions? It is as if his hesitation o n the question of h o w character traits are f o r m e d were expressing a m o r e general u n c e r tainty a b o u t the necessity of a concept of sublimation. Are the clinical concepts of psychoanalysis adequate to account for such extraclinical p h e n o m e n a as h u m a n character and art? A w e l l - k n o w n m y s t e r y in the history of psychoanalysis is w h e t h e r Freud's unpublished papers on m e t a p s y c h o l o g y included a discussion of sublimation. H e w r o t e five metapsychological papers in the spring of 1915 (all are in v o l u m e 14 of the Standard Edition); seven m o r e were apparently w r i t t e n d u r i n g the s u m m e r of the same year, b u t since they were never published it seems likely that he destroyed t h e m . T h e subjects of five of these lost papers are m e n t i o n e d in Freud's letters of the period; it has been assumed, o n the basis of references in other papers, that the subject of one of the other t w o papers was sublimation. Did Freud really destroy that paper? If so, w h y ? It is t e m p t i n g to imagine the various f o r m s of unacceptability that discussion may have taken. Let us assume, first of all, that f r o m a m e t a psychological point of view, Freud showed in the paper that a w h o l l y independent theory of sublimation was unnecessary. Works of art are p r o d u c e d by the same psychic mechanisms as neurotic s y m p t o m s and dreams. A n essay on the sublimating process w o u l d therefore do for culture w h a t The Interpretation of Dreams had d o n e for dreams; Freud's Kunstdeutung m i g h t have been an exercise in psychoanalytic narratology. O r — t o try a second rewriting of that possibly u n w r i t t e n p i e c e — F r e u d may have elaborated a process almost w h o l l y distinct f r o m repression w i t h s y m p t o m or reaction f o r m a t i o n s . T h e ego's cultural interests w o u l d owe n o t h i n g to the child's sexual interests. T h i s kind of essay on sublimation w o u l d necessarily define the limits of psychoanalytic c o m p e -

34

The Corrective Will

tence, and this in one of t w o different ways. We w o u l d have either a description of those desexualizing mechanisms by w h i c h a n e w m i n d b o d y dualism w o u l d be reinstated at certain levels of cultural achievement, or w e w o u l d have an account of certain m o d e s of sexualized behavior that owe n o t h i n g to repressed sexual desires. T h e i m m e n s e interest of the second of these accounts w o u l d be to destroy the m y t h of an essential discontinuity between culture and bodily intensities, at the same time that, having d e m o n s t r a t e d w h a t I have called the nonspecific eroticizing of cultural interests, Freud w o u l d also be d r a w i n g the interpretive line of all psychoanalytic d e m o n s t r a t i o n s . H e w o u l d have described the process by w h i c h psychoanalytically unanalyzable interests are p r o d u c e d . E v e r y t h i n g I have j u s t said in m y reconstruction of t w o different essays on sublimation is in fact said, or at least suggested, by Freud h i m s e l f — b u t n o t in an essay on sublimation. We have already seen s o m e of these a r g u m e n t s sketchily proposed in " C h a r a c t e r and Anal E r o t i c i s m , " and we will find a f u r t h e r elaboration of t h e m — a s well as reactions to t h e m — i n Freud's 1914 piece on narcissism. B u t the p o i n t is that n o one w o r k explicitly c o n f r o n t s the contradictions between these various positions. What are the strategic advantages of this failure to resolve the relation of the sexual to the presumably nonsexual? We can imagine a kind of superior prudence w o r k i n g to eliminate the first of o u r t w o essays f r o m the Freudian corpus. N o t h i n g has been w o r s e for the public i m a g e of psychoanalysis than its reductionist stance w i t h regard to the sacred cows of culture. T h u s in a m o v e that anticipates the pious denegations of generations of later psychoanalytic critics, Freud assures us that Leon a r d o was not neurotic while analyzing his w o r k as a case of m o n u m e n tally arrested development, a case requiring analytic interpretation. B u t such inconsistencies arc b e t t e r — f o r the " i m a g e " of psychoanalysis— than a theory that w o u l d erase t h e m and declare that art obeys exactly the same mechanisms as the neurotic s y m p t o m . Indeed, almost all p s y choanalytic criticism since Freud has been an effort to disguise an a r g u m e n t for the regressive nature of art. 3 O u r second essay may, however, be even m o r e unacceptable than the first. For n o w the danger is that psychoanalysis will conceptualize itself into a n a r r o w area of specialization. By theorizing the cultural as either the nonsexual or as a p s y c h o analytically noninterprctable version of the sexual, Freud w o u l d have defined his n e w discipline as merely another branch of medical science. Psychoanalysis is reserved for the pathogenic in h u m a n behavior; the rest remains u n t o u c h e d . T h u s Freud w o u l d have destroyed w h a t was to bec o m e for h i m a m o r e and m o r e exciting and necessary prospect: the p r o s pect of psychoanalysis as a cultural rather than a simply medical or therapeutic hermeneutics.

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35

W h a t interests m e m o s t , t h o u g h , is a m u c h s t r a n g e r possibility. I w a n t to a r g u e f o r a n o t h e r k i n d o f d a n g e r — a n o t h e r t y p e o f u n a c c e p t a b i l i t y — in o u r h y p o t h e t i c a l second essay on s u b l i m a t i o n . C o n s i d e r the possibility that s u b l i m a t e d sexuality m i g h t p u t into question b o t h the n o t i o n o f n e u rotic sexuality and the definition of t h e sexual s u p p o r t i n g that n o t i o n . T h e essay that w o u l d have a r g u e d f o r w h a t I have t o o rapidly called a psychoanalytically n o n i n t e r p r e t a b l e version o f the sexual, instead of l i m iting t h e interpretive scope of psychoanalysis, m i g h t have universalized its c o m p e t e n c e in an inadmissable way. W h a t is m o s t unacceptable in psychoanalysis is—as has always been p o p u l a r l y a s s u m e d — i t s d e f i n i t i o n of t h e sexual, b u t n o w w e m u s t t h i n k o f that definition as u n a c c e p t a b l e to Freud himself. T h e failure to publish (perhaps even to write) a p a p e r on s u b l i m a t i o n could then be t h o u g h t of as t h e rejection of an u n w a n t e d extension of p o w e r . S u b l i m a t i o n is n o t a liminal or unnecessary p s y c h o analytic concept; rather it is t h e concept that, b y legitimizing p s y c h o analysis' claim to b e i n g a p h i l o s o p h y of culture, can either r e i n f o r c e o r threaten its strained complicity in the culture of r e d e m p t i o n — i n a n o tion of art as m a k i n g over o r repairing failed experience. T h e t h e o r y o f s u b l i m a t i o n that defines art s y m p t o m a t i c a l l y m u s t itself be seen as a s y m p t o m o f psychoanalysis' uneasy relation t o its o w n radical v i e w s on sexuality and c u l t u r e — m o r e specifically, to a v i e w o f art as n o n r e paratively o r n o n r e d e m p t i v e l y eroticized. I will t h e r e f o r e b e d o i n g a s y m p t o m a t o l o g i c a l analysis of Freud's m o v e s away f r o m a n o n s y m p t o matological t h e o r y of s u b l i m a t i o n . W h a t , in s h o r t , had t o b e repressed in his views o f culture as a t y p e o f scxualized p r o d u c t i o n ? *

*

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I will address this q u e s t i o n by discussing an essay t o w h i c h it m a y at first seem irrelevant. Freud's reluctance to p u r s u e the idea o f a n o n s p e c i f i c eroticizing of cultural activities s h o u l d be u n d e r s t o o d in relation to an even m o r e crucial r e p u d i a t i o n of his early t h e o r y o f sexual pleasure. A n d this r e p u d i a t i o n takes p l a c e — o b l i q u e l y yet i r r e v e r s i b l y — b y w a y o f his speculations o n narcissism a n d t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n o f the ego. Freud b e g i n s his 1914 essay " O n Narcissism: A n I n t r o d u c t i o n " b y a r g u i n g f o r a t y p e of narcissism that " w o u l d n o t be a p e r v e r s i o n , b u t the libidinal c o m p l e m e n t to the e g o i s m of the instinct of self-preservation, a m e a s u r e of w h i c h m a y justifiably b e a t t r i b u t e d t o every living c r e a t u r e . " T h u s t h e r e w o u l d be " a n original libidinal cathexis o f t h e e g o , " o r "a p r i m a r y a n d n o r m a l n a r c i s s i s m " ( 1 4 : 7 3 - 7 5 ) . In o n e sense, this n e w c o n c e p t — u s u a l l y considered a l a n d m a r k in t h e h i s t o r y of p s y c h o a n a l y s i s — g o e s back t o s o m e t h i n g quite old in Freud's t h o u g h t . Sexuality, he h a d a r g u e d in t h e Three Essays of 1905, begins b y b e i n g autoerotic. It m a y take place f r o m

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the very beginning w i t h i n an object relation (the infant's relation to the mother's breast), but Freud suggests that the specifically sexual n a t u r e of that relation implies an indifference to the object. In the origins of s e x u ality, the breast is irrelevant to the pleasure caused b y the sensation of w a r m milk flowing t h r o u g h the lips and into the digestive tract. We must, as Freud admonishes us, learn to loosen the b o n d that exists in o u r t h o u g h t s between instinct and object (7:148). Very early in his essay on narcissism, Freud himself asks the question to w h i c h these remarks point: " w h a t is the relation of the narcissism of w h i c h we are n o w speaking to auto-eroticism, w h i c h w e have described as an early state of the libido?" T h e answer has to d o w i t h the difference between a part and the whole: " w e are b o u n d to suppose that a u n i t y comparable to the ego cannot exist in the individual f r o m the start; the ego has to be developed. T h e auto-erotic instincts, however, are there f r o m the very first; so there m u s t be s o m e t h i n g added to a u t o e r o t i s m — a n e w psychical action—in order to bring a b o u t narcissism" ( 1 4 : 7 6 - 7 7 ) . T h i s seems to suggest that the ego and the sexual instincts develop on separate tracks. We w o u l d first of all have autoeroticism w i t h out the psychic unity created by an ego; then s o m e other operation w o u l d take place in the subject w h i c h w o u l d constitute an ego that can be loved. T h e r e is, however, a certain a m b i g u i t y in Freud's phrasing. H a v i n g asserted that " t h e ego has to be developed" (in order for narcissism to exist), he elaborates this idea b y suggesting that "a psychical action" m u s t be added to autoeroticism." This is b y n o means the same thing as saying that an ego (constituted by a developmental process n o t elaborated here) is the precondition for narcissism. T h e last sentence of this short passage raises the possibility that the ego itself comes into being as the result of a certain development of autoeroticism.4 We should return here m o m e n t a r i l y to Freud's association of sexual pleasure in the Three Essays w i t h a pleasurable-unpleasurable tension, a pleasure significantly different f r o m that of tension release, w h i c h Freud of course associates w i t h genital sexuality. T h e m o s t anguishing p r o b l e m for Freud in the Three Essays—a p r o b l e m I speak of at s o m e length in The Freudian Body—is to account for a type of desire that, unlike the desire principally identified w i t h genitality, does n o t seek its o w n extinction in "satisfaction." N o t only that; the pleasurable-unpleasurable t e n sion of sexuality—the pain of a self-shattering e x c i t e m e n t — a i m s at being maintained, replicated, and even increased. T h e h u m a n subject is originally shattered into sexuality; in the Three Essays Freud simultaneously moves t o w a r d and retreats f r o m a definition of sexual excitement as a kind of masochistically enjoyed disturbance of psychic equilibrium. At least in the m o d e in w h i c h it is constituted, sexuality may be a tautology for masochism.

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T h e concept of narcissism can be t h o u g h t o f as an e x t e n s i o n o f that definition. It is as if the inherently solipsistic n a t u r e o f s e x u a l i t y — a n d its correlative indifference to object and to o r g a n s p e c i f i c i t y — a l l o w e d f o r a d e v e l o p m e n t of a u t o e r o t i c i s m in w h i c h t h e source of pleasure and, c o n sequently, the object of desire b e c a m e t h e v e r y experience of ebranlement o r self-shattering. T h e need to repeat that experience can be t h o u g h t o f as an o r i g i n a r y s u b l i m a t i o n , as the first deflection o f the sexual i n stinct f r o m an o b j e c t - f i x a t e d activity to a n o t h e r , " h i g h e r " a i m . " H i g h e r " here, h o w e v e r , w o u l d have n o c o n n o t a t i o n w h a t s o e v e r of r e p a r a t i o n o r restitution; instead it signifies a p r i m i t i v e b u t i m m e n s e l y significant m o v e f r o m f r a g m e n t e d objects t o totalities, a m o v e t a k i n g place at this stage as a f o r m of self-reflexiveness. It is as if a certain split o c c u r r e d in consciousness, a split that paradoxically is also t h e first experience o f self-integration. In this self-reflexive m o v e , a pleasurably shattered c o n sciousness b e c o m e s aware o f itself as t h e object of its desire. To repeat the activity of an eroticized consciousness b e c o m e s a n e w sexual aim, o n e that replaces the a i m o f repeating certain specific activities (such as sucking t h e m o t h e r ' s breast o r h o l d i n g back feces). T h i s o r i g i n a r y s u b l i m a t i o n can also be t h o u g h t of as the initiating m o d e l of all sexual desire in that it a i m s — p u r e l y , even a b s t r a c t l y — t o repeat the reverberating, pleasurably painful tensions themselves, apart f r o m t h e acts that m a y at first have p r o d u c e d t h e m . It is p e r h a p s o n l y b y g r o u n d i n g a t h e o r y of s u b l i m a t i o n in speculations such as these that w e can g u a r a n t e e the distinction b e t w e e n the s u b l i m a t i n g process and the processes o f s y m p t o m and reaction f o r m a t i o n . For t h e e n e r g y o f the o r i g i n a r y s u b l i m a t i o n w o u l d be, b y definition, a n o n f i x a t e d energy. T h e o b j e c t of desire w o u l d b e that w h i c h is objectless in t h e jouissance o f any object relation. Subsequently, of course, s u b l i m a t e d e n e r g y will a t tach itself to specific e g o interests a n d activities, b u t t h e p a r a d i g m o f all such s u b l i m a t i o n s is t h e p r o j e c t o f distilling sexual e x c i t e m e n t f r o m all its c o n t i n g e n t occasions. A s u b l i m a t i o n is only secondarily (and n o t even necessarily) an e n n o b l i n g , o r a m a k i n g sublime; it is, m o s t p r o f o u n d l y , a b u r n i n g away of the occasion, o r at least the dream of purely burning. Far f r o m b e i n g a transcendence o f the sexual, s u b l i m a t i o n s are t h u s g r o u n d e d in unalloyed sexuality. T h e concept s h o u l d t h e r e f o r e b e used to describe n o t m e r e l y t h e fate of n o n f i x a t e d sexual energy, b u t also t h o s e m o v e m e n t s in certain cultural activities—in, p e r h a p s above all, a r t — w h i c h partially dissolve the materiality o f the activity, w h i c h blur its f o r m s a n d its identity and allow us fleetingly to experience a p u r e e x c i t e m e n t . Sublimated e n e r g y is inherently nonreferential. It is n o n r e f e r e n t i a l n o t m e r e l y because it has escaped repression a n d can t h e r e f o r e attach itself t o n e w a i m s and n e w objects w i t h a m i n i m a l c o m p u l s i o n to f i n d substitutes f o r old aims a n d old objects, b u t also because it w a s originally m o t i v a t e d

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Will

b y a pleasure w i t h n o reference. T h e o r i g i n a t i n g m o d e l of all s u b l i m a t i o n is consciousness p u r s u i n g its o w n sexualizing potentialities. It d o e s n o t have to free itself f r o m specific aims and objects because it is as i f 5 it h a d b e c o m e fascinated w i t h the p r o s p e c t o f initiating sexuality t h r o u g h selfreflection. It is, I w o u l d suggest, precisely that fascination w h i c h has b e e n " a d d e d to a u t o - e r o t i c i s m . . . in o r d e r to b r i n g a b o u t n a r c i s s i s m . " T h e " n e w psychical action" creating w h a t Freud calls p r i m a r y narcissism is t h e s u b l i m a t i o n of a u t o - e r o t i c i s m . A n d , as w e should n o w be able t o see, that first narcissistic love is inescapably masochistic. W h o l l y d e v o i d , h o w e v e r , o f such m o r a l c o m p o n e n t s as t h e guilt w i t h w h i c h a later, seco n d a r y m a s o c h i s m will b e b u r d e n e d (and c o r r u p t e d ) , t h e p r i m a r y m a s ochistic desire w o u l d seek m e r e l y to repeat t h e ecstatic s u f f e r i n g o f a p u r e e b r a n l e m e n t . The first psychic totality would thus be constituted by a desire to shatter totality. T h e ego, at its origin, w o u l d be n o t h i n g m o r e t h a n a k i n d o f passionate inference necessitated b y t h e anticipated pleasure o f its o w n d i s m a n t l i n g . In psychoanalysis, the first e g o is an erotic ego; it is constituted by an erotic a s s u m p t i o n . 6 Ψ

*

*

W h a t are the signs, in adult life, of this "original libidinal cathexis o f t h e e g o " ? Since, Freud argues, "certain special difficulties s e e m . . . t o lie in t h e way of a direct s t u d y o f n a r c i s s i s m , " the subject will have to be a p p r o a c h e d indirectly, w i t h the help of pathological disturbances, o r g a n i c disease, and " t h e erotic life of the s e x e s " (14:82). Freud's evidence f o r t h e existence a n d i m p o r t a n c e o f p r i m a r y narcissism b e c o m e s m o r e a n d m o r e general, and the central interest of the essay is t h e c o n n e c t i o n h e will establish b e t w e e n narcissism a n d the creation o f a n o r m a l self. In part 3 Freud t u r n s to " t h e p s y c h o l o g y of repression" in o r d e r t o discover w h a t h a p p e n s t o t h e e g o - l i b i d o of n o r m a l adults. " W e have learnt that libidinal instinctual impulses u n d e r g o t h e vicissitude of p a t h o g e n i c repression if they c o m e into conflict w i t h t h e subject's cultural a n d ethical ideas . . . Repression, w e have said, proceeds f r o m t h e ego; w e m i g h t say w i t h greater precision that it proceeds f r o m t h e self-respect o f t h e e g o " (14:93). S o m e t h i n g quite n e w is b e g i n n i n g to e m e r g e here: t h e idea of an a t t a c h m e n t o f the e g o t o its o w n m o r a l w o r t h . A n d it is as if F r e u d then interpreted that idea structurally. A n a t t a c h m e n t implies t w o t e r m s , a n d b y the e n d of t h e p a r a g r a p h f r o m w h i c h I have b e e n q u o t i n g , t h e ego's self-respect a n d the subject's cultural and ethical ideas have b e c o m e t h e actual ego's relation to an ideal against w h i c h it is m e a s u r e d a n d j u d g e d . T h e g r o u n d w o r k , as w e can see, is being laid f o r The Ego and the Id. H o w is such a relation narcissistic? In Freud's earlier discussions of repression, t h e e m p h a s i s was o n the conflict b e t w e e n libidinal i m p u l s e s

Erotic Assumptions

39

and the cultural and ethical ideas o p p o s i n g t h e m . H e n o w infers f r o m that conflict another libidinal relation, this time between the ego and those very ideas, or ideals, o p p o s i n g libidinal satisfaction: The ideal ego is now the target of the self-love which was enjoyed in childhood by the actual ego. The subject's narcissism makes its appearance displaced on to this new ideal ego, which, like the infantile ego, finds itself possessed of every perfection that is of value. As always where the libido is concerned, man has here again shown himself incapable of giving up a satisfaction he had once enjoyed. He is not willing to forgo the narcissistic perfection of his childhood; and when, as he grows up, he is disturbed by the admonitions of others and by the awakening of his own critical judgment, so that he can no longer retain that perfection, he seeks to recover it in the new form of an ego ideal. What he projects before him as his ideal is the substitute for the lost narcissism of his childhood in which he was his own ideal. (14:94) T h e recovery of narcissism described here is in fact a radical t r a n s f o r m a tion of it. T h e p r i m a r y narcissism Freud described earlier is retroactively moralized. Did the infantile ego really " f i n d itself possessed of every p e r fection that is of value," or was that ego, as I have speculated, created by a kind of appetitive reflexiveness? T h e infant's narcissism is " t h e libidinal c o m p l e m e n t to the egoism of the instinct of self-preservation"; or, f r o m another perspective, it is autoeroticism " p r o m o t e d " to the status of a psychic unity, a process in w h i c h autoeroticism plays the role of a s e x u alizing principle of individuation. T h i s is quite different f r o m that ethical self-appreciation w i t h w h i c h infantile narcissism is identified in part 3 of " O n N a r c i s s i s m , " an identification that allows Freud to mask the i n c o n gruity of equating the ego's relation to an ideal version of itself w i t h a revival of p r i m a r y narcissism. F u r t h e r m o r e , the "ideal e g o " does n o t really even belong to the subject w h o loves it; this "substitute for the lost narcissism of his c h i l d h o o d " is i m p o s e d f r o m w i t h o u t , is in fact the e n e m y of the subject's pleasures. " F o r w h a t p r o m p t e d the subject to f o r m an ego ideal, o n w h o s e behalf his conscience acts as w a t c h m a n , arose f r o m the critical influence of his parents (conveyed to h i m by the m e d i u m of the voice), to w h o m was added, as time w e n t on, those w h o trained and taught h i m and the inn u m e r a b l e and indefinable host of all the other people in his e n v i r o n m e n t — h i s f e l l o w m e n — a n d public o p i n i o n " (14:96). Shortly before this passage, Freud introduced the idea of a censoring agency in the following way: "It w o u l d not surprise us if we were to find a special psychical agency w h i c h p e r f o r m s the task of seeing that narcissistic satisfaction f r o m the ego ideal is ensured and which, w i t h this end in view, c o n stantly watches the actual ego and measures it by that ideal" (14:95). In other w o r d s , narcissistic satisfaction has b e c o m e a duty; it has to be o b -

40

The Corrective Will

tained f r o m a "superior" alien self. What has often been noted as the blurring of psychic boundaries between the ego ideal and what Freud would later call the superego is easily understandable. T h e theory of the superego is the phenomenology of the ego ideal: it describes the experience of the ideal as a guilty consciousness of inner distances. This parodistic revival of primary narcissism—in which the ego is ordered to find pleasure in loving an ideal to which it is guiltily inferior—is also a distorted repetition of primary masochism. I referred earlier to m y suggestion that sexuality is born as masochism. This type of masochism has nothing to do with self-punishment; to speak of it as constituting the sexual is an attempt to describe the peculiarly h u m a n adaptive mechanism by which the infant pursues the repeated shattering of its psychic stability as a source of pleasure. But the essay on narcissism points to a wholly different f o r m of masochism, in which the ego's selfcondemnation is experienced as pleasure. In seeing to it that "narcissistic satisfaction f r o m the ego ideal is ensured," the "special agency" of which Freud speaks perpetrates the narcissism of moral masochism. In a sense, of course, the notion of the ego ideal affirms the importance of the object in h u m a n sexuality, whereas primary narcissism could be thought of as inherently subversive of our relations with the world. Freud's discovery of the importance of narcissism reconfirms his m u c h earlier discovery of a gap between human sexuality and the h u m a n relations presumably served by sexual desire. In his discussion of "the erotic life of the sexes" in " O n Narcissism," Freud exposes the narcissistic desire in various types of object love. "People whose libidinal development has suffered some disturbance," he writes, "such as perverts and h o m o sexuals . . . have taken as a model not their mother but their o w n selves." Most women, according to Freud, love narcissistically. And object love in heterosexual men is partially motivated by a nostalgia for the narcissism they have presumably given up. Strongly narcissistic w o m e n (similar in this to children, great criminals in literature, "cats and the large beasts of prey") "have the greatest fascination for men . . . as if we envied them for maintaining a blissful state of m i n d — a n unassailable libidinal position which we ourselves have since abandoned" (14:89). T h u s in the very best of cases (which, in Freudian terms, would mean cases of post-Oedipal genital heterosexuality), the sexual always involves a turning away from the other. T h e move f r o m autoeroticism to primary narcissism reinforces the autotelic nature of h u m a n sexuality by giving a structural stability to our solipsistic jouissance. And yet it can also be argued that primary narcissism as Freud sketchily defines it at the beginning of his essay on narcissism initiates and later helps to maintain the relations of our sexual life. Primary narcissism allows the infantile ego to be masochistically shattered without

Erotic Assumptions

41

b e i n g destroyed. It is p e r h a p s t h e infant's best erotic defense against t h e eroticizing b o m b a r d m e n t s o f his e n v i r o n m e n t . N a r c i s s i s m replays t h e shattering s t i m u l a t i o n s o f t h a t e n v i r o n m e n t in t h e paradoxical f o r m of a structuralizing self-shattering. Far f r o m h a v i n g a n y t h i n g to d o w i t h the i n fantile ego's p e r c e p t i o n of itself as "possessed o f every p e r f e c t i o n that is of v a l u e , " p r i m a r y narcissism is that ego's (nonethical) appreciation o f its capacity to be sexually shattered. It allows t h e subject to e n t e r into relations w i t h the w o r l d that are n o t sadomasochistic. In c o n t r a s t to this passionate f o r m o f adaptivity, t h e m o s t m y s t e r i o u s l y d y s f u n c t i o n a l aspect of h u m a n d e v e l o p m e n t m a y be t h e ego's r e p u d i a t i o n of its o w n erotic w o r t h a n d its willed subjection t o an antierotic ideal. Freud w r i t e s that t h e ego's d e p a r t u r e f r o m p r i m a r y narcissism "is b r o u g h t a b o u t b y m e a n s o f the displacement o f libido o n to an e g o ideal i m p o s e d f r o m w i t h o u t " — t o w h i c h he adds, astonishingly: " a n d satisfaction is b r o u g h t a b o u t f r o m fulfilling this ideal" (14:100). T h e " v i g o r o u s a t t e m p t to rec o v e r " p r i m a r y narcissism is t h u s defined, in t h e final pages o f Freud's essay, as exactly identical to the d e p a r t u r e f r o m it. A c c o r d i n g t o this definition, the satisfactions o f p r i m a r y narcissism w o u l d be d e p e n d e n t o n — a n d defined b y — t h e v e r y process that erases t h e m . T h e narcissistic love f o r the e g o ideal is a delibidinalized narcissism. W h a t does all this have to d o w i t h sublimation? In t w o e x t r e m e l y i n teresting p a r a g r a p h s in part 3 o f the essay o n narcissism, F r e u d insists o n t h e i m p o r t a n c e of distinguishing b e t w e e n " t h e f o r m a t i o n o f an e g o i d e a l " and " t h e s u b l i m a t i o n of i n s t i n c t . " It is precisely t h e d e m a n d s of t h e e g o ideal that w o r k against s u b l i m a t i o n . T h e e g o ideal drives sexual i m p u l s e s into repression: " t h e f o r m a t i o n o f an ideal . . . is t h e m o s t p o w e r f u l factor f a v o r i n g r e p r e s s i o n . " As a result, t h o s e i m p u l s e s r e m a i n u n s u b l i m a t e d — i n their p r i m i t i v e f o r m — i n t h e u n c o n s c i o u s . S u b l i m a t i o n , o n the o t h e r h a n d , "is a way o u t , a w a y b y w h i c h [the ego's] d e m a n d s can be m e t without i n v o l v i n g repression" ( 1 4 : 9 4 - 9 5 ) . W h a t w e s h o u l d also see, h o w e v e r , is the possibility of sublimation's b e i n g c o n t a m i n a t e d b y idealization. Freud m a k e s his e m p h a t i c distinction b e t w e e n t h e t w o p r o cesses w i t h i n a discussion that has already laid t h e g r o u n d f o r a b l u r r i n g of their conceptual b o u n d a r i e s . It could, after all, be said that his description o f h o w w e e x c h a n g e o u r p r i m a r y narcissism f o r " h o m a g e to a h i g h ideal" is strikingly similar t o descriptive accounts of s u b l i m a t i o n elsew h e r e in his w o r k . In that exchange, instinctual narcissism has replaced a sexual aim (satisfaction f r o m " a n original libidinal cathexis o f the e g o " ) w i t h a n o n s e x u a l aim (satisfaction f r o m fulfilling the r e q u i r e m e n t s o f an ideal ego). M o r e exactly, the relation b e t w e e n t h e e g o a n d t h e ideal e g o outlined in t h e essay o n narcissism can b e t h o u g h t o f as t a k i n g place in t w o stages. A n object "is a g g r a n d i z e d and exalted in t h e subject's m i n d " (this w o u l d be idealization), and t h e subject's narcissism changes its o r i g i -

42

The Corrective

Will

nal aim and is satisfied if the ego fulfills the requirements of that exalted internalized object (this would be sublimation). What should be underlined is that the second process cannot help being affected by the first. The ideal ego's fundamental requirement is that the ego be de-sexualized in order to be worthy of it. If that ideal is to become, as Freud writes, "the target of the self-love which was enjoyed in childhood by the actual ego," the nature of self-love itself must be changed. Or, in other words, the change in aim is inseparable from a change in the very essence of narcissistic desire. In the ego's relation to the ideal version of itself, narcissism is itself idealized, sublimated into something more sublime. The ego's relation to the ideal ego is the ground on which all subsequent idealizing and desexualizing sublimations will be built. φ

Ψ

*

How will psychoanalysis speak of the ego? This, I believe, is the major question raised by Freud's essay on narcissism, and the way in which that question is answered has important consequences for a theory of sublimation. At times sublimation in Freud's works appears to be grounded, as I have suggested, in the erotic ego of primary narcissism, and at other times its model is the ego's masochistic relation to its ideal. In discussing the tension between these two views of narcissism, I have not meant to suggest that one is more valid as a description of psychic reality than the other. " O n Narcissism" can be read as a description of the vicissitudes of early ego formation. Freud seems first of all to be arguing for the emergence of the ego as a consequence of sexual excitement; at its origin, the stabilizing structure of the ego would have been desired into being. He then gives an account of the intersubjective perils that the ego cannot help confronting. Its strategy in dealing with parental criticism and its surrogates is to internalize—and to identify with—the source of that criticism. This identification entails an internal split, and a more or less unworthy ego represses its unlawful desires in order to close the gap between itself and its ideal, as well as to stifle the criticism of the censor on whose approval narcissistic love now depends. The anomaly in Freud's discussion is the link he establishes between these two moments in the ego's history. That is, the formation of the ideal ego is seen as an attempt to recover the satisfaction of primary narcissism, whereas the constitution of the ideal depends on a repressive desexualization of the ego created by primary narcissism. " O n Narcissism" somewhat confusingly theorizes Freud's hesitation between a concept of sublimation as the investing of ego interests with unrepressed sexual energy and a wholly different view in which the boundaries between sublimation and symptom or reaction formation are blurred. In the first of those views, Freud proposes that sublimations are

Erotic Assumptions

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always narcissistically invested. They are extensions of self-love; m o r e precisely, they are interests and activities that contain an expansive narcissism. Far f r o m being a transcendence of self-interest, sublimations are the elaborated forms of self-enjoyment. Just as autoeroticism is repeated and structured in the narcissistic self, so primary narcissism is recovered and objectified in our sublimating activities. T h e pleasure of play, work, art, and philosophical or scientific investigations would, then, have to be defined in terms of a turning away f r o m the objects we love and back to the objectless jouissance in which, as Freud suggests, we were perhaps born into sexuality. This is not to say that the activities just mentioned do not include object relations. In psychoanalytic terms, the question is rather whether such relations can account for the specificity of the pleasure that m o t i vates and sustains our interest in various types of cultural symbolization. That turning away f r o m the object so crucial to Freud's definition of sexual excitement is sexuality s most intimate and most secret m o v e ment, a movement that psychoanalysis itself has attempted to repress in its frequently frenzied attention to the ways in which we adapt to the world of objccts. Sexual pleasure would be just as autotelic in object libido as in narcissistic libido, although in an ««sublimated relation of desire to objccts the object itself remains indispensable, must be possessed if the jouissance in which it ultimately disappears is to be reached. If, as Freud suggests, sublimations originate in narcissistic libido, then sublimations necessarily imply a disinterested relation to objects. T h e c o m m o n notion of sublimated aims as higher aims corroborates this view, although it does so by idealizing the disinterestedness. What I am suggesting is that the transformation of aims with respect to objects— f r o m , say, sexual desire to friendship or altruism—depends not on a suppression or transcendence of the sexual, but rather on a shift in the object itself. T h e self has solipsistically become its o w n source and object of pleasure. To consider sublimation in this way is, finally, to reinforce Freud's contention that we sublimate unrepressed sexual energies. T h e repression of a desire, far f r o m liberating it f r o m its object, condemns that desire to the permanent if disguised pursuit of the object. In sublimation, the o b ject of desire (the libidinal object) is nothing other than the consciousness that is pursuing a nonsexual aim. This is, we might say, psychoanalytic realism rather than psychoanalytic idealism. T h e most notable achievements of culture and morality do indeed involve an abstraction f r o m the sexual. And this means a certain civilizing indifference to our cultural achievements and our ethical ideals, an indifference without which tolerance becomes problematic and the fanaticism of the ideal returns. In the extraordinary h u m a n accomplishment that Freud tentatively sought

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The Corrective Will

to explain u n d e r the n a m e of sublimation, the sexual authentically produces the nonsexual, w h e r e interests and activities are narcissistic distillations. A n inevitable consequence of such a concept of sublimation is the renunciation of w h a t has generally been recognized as the psychoanalytic criticism of art. T h e m o r e successfully the artist sublimates, the fewer traces there will be of fixated (interpretable) sexual energy in his w o r k . N o r can the nonspecific sexualization of ego interests be c o n f i r m e d b y a p r e s u m e d d o m i n a n c e of p r i m a r y characteristics in the artist's " t h i n k i n g . " T h e principal m o d e l f r o m w h i c h Freud derived those characteristics— the model of d r e a m s — i s m u c h too primitive and private a mental p h e n o m e n o n (which may of course take very intricate and puzzling f o r m s ) to be useful in o u r a t t e m p t to describe the eroticizing of ego interests in artistic p r o d u c t i o n . T h e consciousness of reality is sexualized in a w o r k of art in ways that the melodramatic syntactic disturbances of the p r i m a r y processes cannot account for. T h e way, then, is o p e n for a criticism of art that w o u l d be t h o r o u g h l y psychoanalytic in its recognition of art as the record of a special m o d e of eroticized consciousness, and yet j u s t as decidedly nonpsychoanalytic in its conviction that psychoanalysis itself has d o n e little to provide us w i t h the t e r m s in w h i c h to describe that ebranlement. T h e vocabulary of psychoanalysis is, in large part, designed to domesticate its o w n discoveries; only by maintaining a kind of ascetic reserve w i t h regard to that vocabulary can w e maintain a psychoanalytic perspective on culture. At least for cultural studies, o u r t h e o r y of sublimation m i g h t thus be inclined to neglect the discipline in w h i c h it is g r o u n d e d . If Freud has d e t e r m i n e d m o r e than anyone else the ways in w h i c h I read art, his t h e o ries have been less i m p o r t a n t to me than the experience of having followed the m o d e s of theoretical failure and even collapse in his w o r k , the processes by w h i c h a r g u m e n t s are at once elaborated and d i s f o r m u l a t e d . T h e Freudian text's f r e q u e n t sacrifice of its o w n theoretical coherence should lead us to a restatement of Freudian theory as an inference f r o m the troubled experience of reading Freudian theory. Freud's w o r k is an e x e m p l a r y version of these disruptions of h u m a n discourse, w h i c h it of course also a t t e m p t s to account for systematically—disruptions that p s y choanalysis has rightly recognized as crucial to w h a t w e call the aesthetic but that it has identified s o m e w h a t naively. T h e theoretical inferences I referred to a m o m e n t ago should not, I believe, solidify into theoretical positions b u t should operate as theoretical dispositions in f r o n t of the w o r k of a r t — a n d a m o n g these dispositions I w o u l d include a readiness to l o cate repetitions masked as progressions, a turning away f r o m the object (the inference f r o m the essay on narcissism is o b v i o u s here), and a simultaneous confidence in and rejection of narrative orders. In m y o w n

Erotic Assumptions

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work, I hope to show h o w pervasively such dispositions can operate in criticism even w h e n the usual signs of a so-called psychoanalytic approach are absent f r o m the critical work. Finally, and in partial defiance of what I have just been saying, I will momentarily solidify all these dispositions into more recognizable psychoanalytic language and say that in art the secret identity between narcissism and masochism is performed as the subversive eroticizing of representational projects. But, as we have seen, Freud's essay on narcissism points to wholly different cultural analyses. T h e theory of sublimation suggested in the final sections of the essay is itself a repressive, idealizing sublimation of that other view of sublimation, as ego interests invested with unrepressed sexual energies. T h e history of Freud's t h o u g h t — a n d , to a large extent, of psychoanalysis itself—is the history of the repression of the psychoanalytic definition of the sexual. It has apparently been more acceptable to treat the achievements of culture as ambiguously successful reparative repetitions of developmental disturbances than to think of those achievements as sustained by the uncommunicable and uninterpretable intensities of a masochistic jouissance. Fearful of what might be called an intrinsic indifference to others in h u m a n sexuality, Freud managed to reinterpret his theory of primary narcissism as he formulated it so that narcissistic pleasure itself would appear as a derivative of object relations. I have argued, both here and in The Freudian Body, that Freud's most original speculative move was to deconstruct the sexual as a category of intersubjectivity, and to propose a definition of sexual excitement as both a turning away f r o m others and a dying to the self. T h e appeal of that d y i n g — t h e desire to be shattered out of coherence—is perhaps what psychoanalysis has sought most urgently to repress. But the compulsion to eliminate f r o m life the incomparable pleasure of dying has led to the infinitely more dangerous idealizing of that pleasure as moral masochism. T h e inadequately repressed and inadequately satisfied desire to renew the ebranlement of the sexual thus repeats itself by turning against itself: self-shattering is turned into rageful aggressiveness, and the excited dismantling of identity is degraded into the longing for a merely biological death. Finally—and to return to m y point of departure—Freud himself, in the speculation of "Character and Anal Eroticism," perhaps located the m o m e n t of our greatest susceptibility to such transformations. It is as if we were most vulnerable to the temptation to deny the sexual at precisely that m o m e n t in our development when sexual pleasure is experienced as a denial or a retention. In what Freud describes as the anal character, we may have the unique configuration of a perfect identity between unrestrained sexuality and its brutal repression. Anality is the m o d e of sexuality that most closely literalizes the affinities of the sexual with death. In

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The Corrective Will

anality, the ebranlement of sexual excitement is p r o m o t e d — i n a certain sense, s u b l i m a t e d — t o a fantasy of massive destruction. T h e anal character trait is anal sexuality negativized, a negativizing t h a t — a s in the case of individual and social compulsions for o r d e r — c a n present itself as a reparation, indeed almost as an a t o n e m e n t for a defiling explosiveness. But the potentially m u r d e r o u s a t o n e m e n t s of order can repeat—literally, historically—the fantasmatic devastations they punish. A n i m a t e d by the furies of anality, the culture of r e d e m p t i o n is the culture of death.

CHAPTER

3

Boundaries of Time and Being: Benjamin, Baudelaire, Nietzsche Is it possible not to be modern? More exactly, can we ever experience a time other than our own? I emphasize the word "experience" both to indicate a relation more profound, or more authentic, than a knowledge o f how people lived in the past and to suggest how difficult it is to say what we mean by such a relation. To call the inescapable conditions o f our experience our "modernity" is perhaps to accept the challenge o f defining other conditions o f experience, conditions significantly different from our own and predating the modern. Such a compulsion is never ideologically neutral. T h e type o f historical reflection about the times we live in, expressed by efforts to define discontinuities between the present and the past, is perhaps always motivated by a need for historical celebration or historical mourning. Modernism was rich in this type o f reflection, and it included paeans to the presumably new consciousness o f the times and elegiac expressions o f regret for the invaluable and irrecoverable modes o f consciousness presumably enjoyed in former times. And each o f these moods can o f course nourish the other: an apocalyptic sense o f loss gives an unprecedented glamor to the notion o f modernity; it summons the modern writer to nothing less than the reinvention o f the terms and conditions o f human experience. Thus if Ulysses demonstrates the unavailability o f one o f our culture's ancient stories as a mythical paradigm for modern experience, and if it does this by showing how easily that story can be insignificantly repeated in modern experience, Finnegans Wake can, and must, destroy the very language that still carries those comically recurrent myths in Ulysses in order to start again, unburdened by what, before Finnegans Wake, we could neither use nor forget. Even in writers far more reluctant than Joyce to admit that anything new can replace the lost values and explanatory models o f the past (I'm thinking especially o f Eliot), the modern nonetheless retains an incomparable aura: that o f being spiritually stranded, uniquely special in its

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radical break with traditional values and modes of consciousness. And to say this is to return to the logical problem I raised at the start: if an exacerbated consciousness of the modern is necessarily characterized by the sense of being cut off f r o m the premodern, h o w can we understand the terms in relation to which, more exactly against which, the m o d e r n itself is to be defined? This very problem is perhaps a creation of the modernistic modernity to which I have just referred. If the concept of modernity always implies the sense of a break with the past, of living at m o m e n t s when certain important thresholds are crossed (thresholds of political or economic modes of organization, of demographic m o v e ments and the distribution of social pressures and loci of power, of cultural hierarchies—including the place of religion in a culture's resources for making its experience intelligible and for guiding ethical choices), it does not necessarily imply that modern times are chiefly characterized by an inability to do something that past epochs were able to do: to make connections and, more precisely, to connect with their o w n traditions. Now, however, the modern is understood not merely as a break with the past but as an inability to understand the past. T h e modernity of the twentieth century includes the loss of what other modernities did not necessarily give up when they defined their o w n distinctiveness: an u n derstanding of the tradition to which that modernity added something new. T h e break with the past n o w is marked by a m o u r n f u l sense of the break itself as unique. We arc modern because our modernity makes absolute the notion of discontinuity implicit in all discourses on m o dernity, reformulates discontinuity as a loss of the aptitude for continuities. To speak of the past therefore becomes nearly inconceivable once it is no longer merely a question of describing other customs, other systems of justice, other sets of beliefs, but rather the lost capacity of consciousness to place itself in relation to history. M o d e r n consciousness, in short, is irremediably cut off f r o m other ways in which h u m a n beings have understood their modernity, their comparatively limited break with their own past. This is the apocalyptic nature of our modernity, which in this century has frequently been spoken of as if it were a mutation of consciousness rather than the latest in a series of regular turns, accretions, and ruptures within an organically whole tradition. How, then, can we speak of that f r o m which we have mutated? Is the m o u r n f u l consciousness that describes this evolutionary drama the vestigial remnant of an extinct m o d e of being?

Benjamin T h e strains—and the straining—to which this m o d e of thought is subject are exceptionally visible in the work of Walter Benjamin. Benjamin can-

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not, it is true, be reduced to a single or consistent set of attitudes toward the modern. His later work is less theologically oriented than his early writing, and, especially in what may be his most famous essay, " T h e Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," he seems to be primarily interested in the revolutionary potential of modern art, acknowledging that in a period like our own, of inauthentic art, films can nonetheless " p r o m o t e revolutionary criticism of social conditions, even of the distribution of property." (The "tremendous shattering of tradition" that results in the loss of art's " a u r a " can, that is, also become a more beneficently destructive critiquc of the established injustices in the property relations of a capitalist society. Furthermore, the same masses that were bound to respond in a reactionary manner to Picasso and surrealism could respond progressively to a Chaplin movie.) 1 But these, I will argue, are nuances within Benjamin's overwhelmingly negative j u d g m e n t of the modern. If, for example, he was fascinated by what modernity had brought to Paris, Moscow, and London, he also felt that life in these cities had become a constant reminder of personal and cultural loss. T h e facile nature of his pronouncements of loss can be staggering. Thus, in his essay " O n Some Motifs in Baudelaire," he offers particularly unilluminating versions of an idea that was already a cliche of philosophy and cultural criticism at the beginning of the century: "the standardized, denatured life of the civilized masses" is the opposite of true experience (156). And in an essay on Nikolai Leskov entitled " T h e Storyteller": "experience has fallen in value. And it looks as if it is continuing to fall into bottomlessness. Every glance at a newspaper d e m o n strates that it has reached a new low, that our picture, not only of the external world but of the moral world as well, overnight has undergone changes which were never thought possible" (83—84). What do these statements really mean? Benjamin's most tantalizing distinctions serve to disguise the difficulty of satisfactorily answering that question. His thought is full of pairs—with one term referring to something inauthentic but familiar, the other to something authentic but lost. T h e best k n o w n of these pairs is Erlebnis and Erfahrung, both of which are translated into English by "experience." 2 Benjamin uses Erlebnis to characterize Bergsonian duree, f r o m which death and tradition have been excluded: "It is the quintessence of a passing m o m e n t that struts about in the borrowed garb of experience" ( " O n Some Motifs in Baudelaire," 45). In the modern city, Erfahrung has become nearly impossible, for citydwellers live in a state of shock in which they defensively inhibit impressions f r o m being fully integrated into their history. " T h e greater the share of the shock factor in particular impressions, the m o r e constantly consciousness has to be alert as a screen against stimuli; the m o r e efficiently it does so, the less do these impressions enter experience (Er-

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fahrung), t e n d i n g to r e m a i n in the s p h e r e of a certain h o u r in one's life (Erlebnis)" (163). W h a t are t h o s e i m p r e s s i o n s p r e s u m a b l y o u t s i d e e x p e rience? C o n t e x t u a l l y , B e n j a m i n ' s m e a n i n g is clear e n o u g h : Erlebnis is a "passing m o m e n t " isolated f r o m the past. " T h e m a n w h o loses his capacity f o r experiencing feels as t h o u g h he is d r o p p e d f r o m the c a l e n d a r . " T h e superiority of Baudelaire to B e r g s o n is that, w h i l e the latter tries t o pass off Erlebnis as Erfahrung in his concept of duree, the f o r m e r ' s r e p r e sentation of spleen exposes " t h e passing m o m e n t in all its n a k e d n e s s , " stripped o f any associations w i t h history ( 1 8 4 - 1 8 5 ) . C a n there be such a t h i n g as a " n a k e d " passing m o m e n t ? In m a k i n g his a r g u m e n t f o r t h e i m p o r t a n c e of s h o c k experience in m o d e r n life (and in m o d e r n p o e t r y ) , B e n j a m i n appeals to Freud's discussion of t r a u m a t i c d r e a m s in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. It is typical o f B e n j a m i n ' s p r o cedure to m o v e quickly a m o n g various references, to blend e x t r e m e m o b i l i t y and a p p a r e n t density in a w a y that discourages us f r o m t r y i n g to figure o u t if w h a t is m o v i n g so precipitously ahead is a c o h e r e n t arg u m e n t or a k i n d of n e r v o u s l y journalistic and j e r k i l y brilliant m i n d . P r e s u m a b l y w h a t B e n j a m i n means b y the " s h o c k factor in particular i m p r e s s i o n s " is clarified b y Freud's idea o f shocks as t h e effect of " t h e excessive energies at w o r k in the external w o r l d , " energies t h a t risk " b r e a k i n g t h r o u g h t h e [mind's] protective shield against s t i m u l i . " T h e d r e a m s that r e p r o d u c e t h e catastrophic shock are, Freud writes, efforts " t o master the s t i m u l u s retroactively, b y developing t h e anxiety w h o s e o m i s s i o n was t h e cause of the t r a u m a t i c n e u r o s i s " (161). Such d r e a m s thus express t h e failure o f consciousness to have originally d e v e l o p e d strategies (above all, anxiety) to help it p a r r y o r register t h e s h o c k . F r o m B e n j a m i n ' s p o i n t o f view, the f u n c t i o n of consciousness as a p r o t e c t i o n against stimuli is interesting m a i n l y in c o n n e c t i o n w i t h s o m e t h i n g else Freud says a b o u t consciousness in this s a m e section o f Beyond the Pleasure Principle: " b e c o m i n g conscious and leaving b e h i n d a m e m o r y trace are processes i n c o m p a t i b l e w i t h each o t h e r w i t h i n o n e and t h e s a m e syst e m . " T h u s , in the m e n t a l s y s t e m that shields us against t r a u m a t i c shocks, i m p r e s s i o n s die w i t h o u t leaving b e h i n d m e m o r y traces. " T h e a t t r i b u t i o n of ' p e r m a n e n t traces as the basis o f m e m o r y ' to processes o f s t i m u l a t i o n is reserved for ' o t h e r s y s t e m s , ' w h i c h m u s t be t h o u g h t of as different f r o m c o n s c i o u s n e s s " ( 1 6 0 - 6 1 ) . T h e reference to Freud is m e a n t to p r o v i d e a " m o r e substantial d e f i n i t i o n " of the P r o u s t i a n distinction b e t w e e n memoire volontaire and memoire involontaire and, in B e n j a m i n ' s o w n t e r m s , b e t w e e n Erlebnis a n d Erfahrung. B u t Freud's h y p o t h e s i s a b o u t consciousness as i n c o m p a t i b l e w i t h p e r m a n e n t m e m o r y traccs describes certain f u n c t i o n a l differentiations w i t h i n the m e n t a l apparatus and is n o t offered to a c c o u n t f o r t h e loss o f an ability t o " h a v e " experience. Potentially t r a u m a t i c shocks d o , in a

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way, threaten that ability, and it m a y also be true, as B e n j a m i n suggests, that shock defense can w o r k b y " a s s i g n i n g to an incident a precise p o i n t in t i m e in c o n s c i o u s n e s s " and b y disintegrating i m p r e s s i o n s (as T h e o d o r Reik suggested) in o r d e r to facilitate that exact t e m p o r a l a s s i g n m e n t . N o r is it w h o l l y implausible to a r g u e that " t h e share of t h e s h o c k factor in particular i m p r e s s i o n s " m a y be greater in m o d e r n u r b a n c r o w d s t h a n in older rural settings, a l t h o u g h it is precisely Benjamin's s t r o n g historicizing of consciousness' role in p a r r y i n g shocks that distorts t h e Freudian v i e w of t h e m i n d ' s e c o n o m y . B e n j a m i n ' s constant i m p l i c a t i o n is that the consciousness w h i c h , in "a peak a c h i e v e m e n t of the intellect," t u r n s a t h r e a t e n i n g incident into a m e r e " m o m e n t that has been lived (Erlebnis)," is a kind of historical curse, a fallen way of dealing w i t h experience. In the essays I a m discussing, t h e fall is associated w i t h m o d e r n i t y , and after o n l y a p a g e - a n d - a - h a l f s u m m a r y of Freud's ideas, B e n j a m i n switches his reference to Valery w h o , w e are told, " s e e m s to have h a d s o m e t h i n g similar in m i n d . T h e coincidence is w o r t h n o t i n g , f o r Valery was a m o n g those interested in the special f u n c t i o n i n g of psychic m e c h a n i s m s u n d e r present-day conditions" (160-167). T h i s hurried excursion t h r o u g h Freud and Valery (preceded b y a f e w pages o n P r o u s t , all in an essay on m o t i f s in Baudelaire) ends w i t h a p a r a g r a p h on the hyperreflective n a t u r e of m o d e r n poetry. In an age in w h i c h " t h e shock experience has b e c o m e the n o r m " p o e t r y will have "a large m e a s u r e o f consciousness"; "a plan" will be " a t w o r k in its c o m p o s i t i o n . " This, B e n j a m i n p o i n t s out, is indeed the case w i t h such i m p o r t a n t m o d e r n figures as Baudelaire, Poe, and Valery. B u t are Poe's and Valery's theories of c o m p o s i t i o n typically m o d e r n ? A r e there n o historical precedents f o r the kind of self-reflexive, calculated p o e t r y that B e n j a m i n sees as characteristic o f an age o f shock experiences? M o r e f u n damentally, can w e i m a g i n e a p o e t r y in w h i c h a plan is not at w o r k , w h i c h does not have "a large m e a s u r e of consciousness?" It t u r n s o u t , as w e learn at the end of this brief section, that B e n j a m i n is t h i n k i n g m a i n l y of historical consciousness. Q u o t i n g a q u i t e o r d i n a r y r e m a r k b y Valery to the effect that Baudelaire's " r e a s o n of state" was " t o b e c o m e a great poet, yet neither L a m a r t i n e n o r H u g o n o r M ü s s e t , " B e n j a m i n takes this to m e a n Baudelaire's " e m a n c i p a t i o n f r o m e x p e r i e n c e s " (162). T h a t is, Baudelaire intended his w o r k t o be historical (didn't t h e Pleiade poets of the French Renaissance have t h e s a m e intention?), w h i c h , to fill in t h e blanks here, is p e r h a p s the inevitable c o n s e q u e n c e of living in a s h o c k saturated e n v i r o n m e n t w h e r e consciousness m u s t play a d i s p r o p o r t i o n ately large role and w h e r e p o e t r y b e c o m e s t o o cerebral, cut off f r o m that integrated experience (Erfahrung), that p o e t r y of e n d u r i n g m e m o r i e s , o f a present organically integrated to the past, w h i c h is always t h e g o v e r n ing a n d u n e x a m i n e d ideal principle b e h i n d the entire a r g u m e n t .

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We have of course c o m e a long way f r o m Freud. T h e Freudian a r g u m e n t is, as I have suggested, not invulnerable to a certain historical translation of the play it describes between stimuli, consciousness, and m e m o r y , b u t Freud was interested in the mechanisms by w h i c h the m i n d deals w i t h the constant threat of being overpowered by " t h e excessive energies at w o r k " — a l w a y s and e v e r y w h e r e — " i n the external w o r l d . " T h e interest of Freud's a r g u m e n t lies in his effort to account for the very survival of the species. H o w , he asks, does a living o r g a n i s m m a n a g e to continue to exist, even to exercise a certain mastery over its e n v i r o n m e n t , in a w o r l d w h e r e the o d d s of stimuli exchange are o v e r w h e l m i n g l y against it? This is a far m o r e p r o f o u n d , and generous, question a b o u t h u m a n life than Benjamin's at once tendentious and nihilistic r e f o r m u l a tion. We soon e n o u g h discover in reading B e n j a m i n that " t h e m o d e r n " is merely a m e t a p h o r for the historical—for the experiential—itself. " M e r e l y " — a n d yet this places an i m m e n s e b u r d e n on the n o t i o n of m o dernity. In his essay on Leskov, B e n j a m i n delivers another of his vatic p r o n o u n c e m e n t s : " T h e art of storytelling is reaching its end because the epic side of truth, w i s d o m , is dying o u t . " W h a t I find m o s t interesting is Benjamin's apparent qualification of this assertion: This, however, is a process that has been going on for a long time. And nothing would be more fatuous than to want to see in it merely a "symptom of decay," let alone a "modern" symptom. It is, rather, a concomitant symptom of the secular productive forces of history, a concomitant that has quite gradually removed narrative from the realm of living speech and at the same time is making it possible to see a new beauty in what is vanishing. (87) T h e final phrase is a concession that, here and elsewhere, costs B e n j a m i n n o t h i n g . Indeed, to allow for a certain " b e a u t y " in the m o d e r n serves the larger p u r p o s e of indicting history itself. T h e stakes are m u c h larger than the p r e s u m e d effects of u r b a n c r o w d s on the m o d e r n consciousness, and the very historicizing of Freud's ideas can also be t h o u g h t of as disguising the way in w h i c h B e n j a m i n , like Freud (but w i t h a very different purpose), is m a k i n g an ahistorical a r g u m e n t about mental structures and functions. T h e real traumatic shock is n o t h i n g less than " t h e secular p r o ductive forces of h i s t o r y " or, to abbreviate that, secular history. But Freud is n o t positing s o m e other way of having impressions enter experience. H e is describing an e c o n o m y constitutive of h u m a n mental life, an e c o n o m y of survival, and it can hardly be said, given his c o m p l e x theory of the relation between perception and the unconscious, that he gave any special value to those " p o w e r f u l " and " e n d u r i n g " m e m o r y f r a g m e n t s traceable to incidents that " n e v e r entered consciousness" ( " B a u d e l a i r e , " 160). T h a t is, unlike B e n j a m i n , Freud does n o t p r o m o t e

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the unreflective to the status of a lost paradisiac capacity for experience, a move that, in Benjamin, leaves us with reflective consciousness as a kind of pis aller, "a peak achievement" of an intellect w h o s e highest achievement is actually its awareness of its o w n hegemony as a fall f r o m the grace of Erfahrung. If Freud's description of the mind appears ahistorical, it is largely because he could imagine nothing but history as a theater for life, whereas for Benjamin history is the theater in which we cease to live authentically. *

*

*

T h e theological conclusions to which we are n o w rapidly moving will hardly come as a surprise to readers of Benjamin. I have deliberately delayed any direct consideration of them in order to suggest h o w they guide his argument at every turn. That is, I have not mentioned the p r o found religious orientation of his thought in order to emphasize its necessity; his thought makes no sense without it. T h e great popularity that Benjamin has enjoyed a m o n g literary intellectuals might lead us, wrongly, to assume that we can bracket his religious yearnings as we admire and profit f r o m his observations on Proust, Kafka, Baudelaire, and Goethe. But those observations always lead back to Benjamin's postlapsarian dirge, even when the particular object of analysis seems unrelated to the theological thesis. H e was a brilliant man, and his writing has many insightful flashes, which we might just as accurately call flashy insights. His essays are full of fragmented thought, and though it is fashionable to admire the rigor with which he practiced a literary f o r m consonant with his idea of the fragmentariness of m o d e r n consciousness, it is less frequently noted that his central thesis about fragmentariness presupposes his o w n capacity for a sustained transcendence o f t h a t condition and for the most extraordinary totalizing assertions about, most notably, the prehistorical and historical consciousness. Very little of what he said makes any sense—and this is especially true of his elaboration of such distinctions as Erlebnis and Erfahrung—unless we place it within the logical assumptions behind all his thought: assumptions of lost wholeness, of fallen being. Benjamin was at once incoherent and wholly consistent. Richard Wolin is right to argue for this consistency, to maintain that "a relentless desire for redemption . . . represents the inner drive behind the entirety of Benjamin's theoretical oeuure."3 In the light of this fidelity, Benjamin's fascinated attention to the details of modern life 4 has something profoundly m o r b i d about it. Such attention is not merely a function of the epistemological article of faith—elaborated in the prologue to his Trauerspiel study—according to which "truth-content is only to be grasped through immersion in the most minute details" of the object of one's thought. 5 Adorno, even while

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a r g u i n g that " t h e only p h i l o s o p h y w h i c h can be responsibly practiced in face of despair is the a t t e m p t t o c o n t e m p l a t e all t h i n g s as they w o u l d present t h e m s e l v e s f r o m the s t a n d p o i n t of r e d e m p t i o n " (or " i n t h e m e s sianic light"), also n o t e d t h e " u t t e r l y i m p o s s i b l e " n a t u r e of any such p h i l o s o p h y because "it p r e s u p p o s e s a s t a n d p o i n t r e m o v e d , even t h o u g h b y a hair's b r e a d t h , f r o m t h e scope of existence, w h e r e a s w e well k n o w that any possible k n o w l e d g e m u s t n o t o n l y be first w r e s t e d f r o m w h a t is, if it shall h o l d g o o d , but is also m a r k e d , f o r this v e r y reason, b y t h e s a m e distortion and indigence it seeks to e s c a p e . " 6 We m u s t g o o n e step f u r t h e r , f o r it is n o t m e r e l y a q u e s t i o n o f t h e p h i l o s o p h e r b e i n g in (and t h e r e f o r e b e i n g m a r k e d by) t h e w o r l d w h o s e " d i s t o r t i o n and i n d i g e n c e " he exposes. T h a t d i s t o r t i o n and that i n d i gence are in his t h o u g h t b e f o r e his t h o u g h t even applies itself t o t h e w o r l d . T h e y are themselves decisions of that thought a b o u t t h e w o r l d a n d n o t objective characteristics of an e n v i r o n m e n t that can o n l y infect a n y o n e w h o , as it were, h a p p e n s to be in such an e n v i r o n m e n t . T h e disease o f m o d e r n i t y ( m o r e p r o f o u n d l y , o f history) that B e n j a m i n analyzes is first o f all (and p e r h a p s last o f all) t h e disease o f his p e r c e p t i o n of m o dernity. T h e r e d e m p t i v e need in Benjamin's critique o f the m o d e r n c o n d e m n s that critique to a kind of m y s t i f i e d m o r b i d i t y ; it always has to be a question o f " t r u t h " b r e a k i n g in u p o n , or b e i n g m a d e t o e m e r g e f r o m , d e g r a d e d p h e n o m e n a — d e g r a d e d b y virtue of their v e r y p h e n o menality. It is t e m p t i n g to see B e n j a m i n ' s great p o p u l a r i t y t o d a y as a sign o f o u r complicity in such mystifications. It is perhaps, m o r e pointedly, a sign o f t h e e x t r a o r d i n a r y h o l d o n o u r t h o u g h t o f the culture o f r e d e m p tion. For in B e n j a m i n w e find the traits m o s t deeply characteristic o f this culture: t h e s c r u p u l o u s registering of experience in o r d e r to annihilate it, a n d the magical and nihilistic belief that i m m e r s i o n in the m o s t m i n u t e details of a material c o n t e n t will n o t o n l y r e d u c e that c o n t e n t b u t s i m u l taneously unveil its h i d d e n r e d e m p t i v e d o u b l e . T h e pairs of t h o u g h t in Benjamin's w o r k operate as conceptual r e m i n d e r s of this process o f annihilation and resurrection. T h e r e is n o t only Erlebnis and Erfahrung. T h e m a n of t h e c r o w d is o p p o s e d to t h e flaneur. Baudelaire, according to B e n j a m i n , m i s t a k e n l y equates t h e t w o — p e r h a p s because "Baudelaire's Paris preserved s o m e features that d a t e d back to t h e h a p p y old d a y s . " In the m a n of the c r o w d , " c o m p o s u r e has given way to m a n i c behavior. H e n c e , h e exemplifies, rather, w h a t w a s to b e c o m e of t h e flaneur once he was d e p r i v e d o f the milieu t o w h i c h h e b e l o n g e d " ( " B a u d e l a i r e , " 172). T h e r e are even d e s i r e s — s u c h as t h e g a m bler's "desire to w i n a n d m a k e m o n e y " — w h i c h are n o t wishes (Wünsche) "in the strict sense o f the w o r d . " A w i s h b e l o n g s to the c a t e g o r y of authentic experience; indeed, "a w i s h fulfilled is the c r o w n i n g o f e x p e r i e n c e . " ( T h e distinction is explained b y a f u r t h e r distinction: " I t is e x p e -

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rience that a c c o m p a n i e s o n e to the far reaches of t i m e , that fills a n d divides t i m e . " T h i s " g o o d " t i m e is spatial: t h e c r o w n i n g experience of a w i s h fulfilled is p r o p e r l y s y m b o l i z e d b y the s h o o t i n g star, " w h i c h p l u n g e s into the infinite distance of s p a c e , " w h e r e a s " t h e i v o r y ball [on the g a m b l i n g table] w h i c h rolls into the next c o m p a r t m e n t , t h e next card w h i c h lies o n t o p are the v e r y antithesis of a falling s t a r " [178—79].) We also have the difference b e t w e e n i n f o r m a t i o n a n d stories. In a c u l t u r e suffering f r o m " t h e increasing a t r o p h y o f e x p e r i e n c e , " it b e c o m e s a l m o s t i m p o s s i b l e to tell stories; instead w e have i n f o r m a t i o n isolated f r o m e x perience, isolated because i n f o r m a t i o n " d o e s n o t enter ' t r a d i t i o n . ' " For B e n j a m i n , Proust's w o r k " c o n v e y s an idea o f the efforts it t o o k to restore the f i g u r e of t h e storyteller to t h e present g e n e r a t i o n " (159). W h a t is the strategic p u r p o s e o f these distinctions in B e n j a m i n ' s t h o u g h t ? If t h e privileged t e r m in each o f the pairs I have m e n t i o n e d is the lost t e r m , this is because the r e d e m p t i v e d o u b l e of m o d e r n (or, once again, historical) experience is an a u t h e n t i c origin. B e n j a m i n does n o t have to m e a n this in a literal sense: the authentic origin, like Rousseau's state of nature, is an ontological p r i o r i t y rather than a fact of history, a n d this of course adds greatly to its p o w e r . It is n o t s o m e t h i n g w e can m e r e l y regret; it is a m o d e o f being t o w a r d w h i c h w e can aspire, w h i c h can b e " r e s t o r e d " (or p e r h a p s even realized f o r the first time). T h e c o n c e p t u a l visibility o f this ontological preference d e p e n d s on its presentation in historical m e t a p h o r s , its translation into a t e m p o r a l priority. In a sense, this " r e d e e m s " all t h e factitious o p p o s i t i o n s b e t w e e n past and present in B e n j a m i n , f o r he really a c k n o w l e d g e s n o responsibility to historical t r u t h in spite of his a n n o u n c e d " i m m e r s i o n in t h e m o s t m i n u t e details of s u b j e c t m a t t e r . " N o t o n l y is history devalued as a referent; t h e historical m e t h o d itself is n o t h i n g m o r e than the principal tactic w i t h i n a strategy d e s i g n e d to rescue t r u t h f r o m history. T h u s the incoherence o f an historical a r g u m e n t can be t h o u g h t of as irrelevant to its t r u t h c o n t e n t — a n d this is characteristic o f religious history. F r o m this perspective, B e n j a m i n can get away w i t h a l m o s t a n y t h i n g , f r o m t h e m i s r e a d i n g of a single p o e m to the m o s t s w e e p i n g s t a t e m e n t s a b o u t m o d e r n man's b e i n g " c h e a t e d o u t of his e x p e r i e n c e " ( " B a u d e laire," 180). T h u s he reads Baudelaire's s o n n e t " C o r r e s p o n d a n c e s " as if it w e r e saying the same t h i n g as "La Vie a n t e r i e u r e . " T h e latter p o e m m i g h t b e read as an evocation of lost c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s , b u t it is difficult t o see h o w the f o r m e r thcmatically b e l o n g s to a "cycle of p o e m s . . . d e v o t e d to s o m e t h i n g irretrievably l o s t . " B e n j a m i n says a l m o s t n o t h i n g a b o u t either p o e m f o r that m a t t e r — h i s essays never include sustained discussions o f the literary w o r k s they refer t o — b u t , as far as I can m a k e o u t , he reads " C o r r e s p o n d a n c e s " as describing " d a t a of r e m e m b r a n c e — n o t historical data, b u t data of p r e h i s t o r y , " w h i c h w e have lost. Yet

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Baudelaire docs n o t say that nature was once a "living t e m p l e " of veiled symbols, but that it is that temple (and that, consequently, its " c o n f u s e s paroles" can still be heard). F u r t h e r m o r e , n o t h i n g in the p o e m describes correspondences as those "data of r e m e m b r a n c e " connecting us to " p r e history," w h i c h establish an " e n c o u n t e r w i t h an earlier life" (181-182). Rather, the p o e m outlines t w o types of correspondences: in the first stanza, between those " f o r e t s de s y m b o l e s " that constitute nature and whatever (possibly transcendent) reality they symbolize, and in the rest of the p o e m , correspondences a m o n g the various orders of sensory p e r ception ("Les p a r f u m s , les couleurs et les sons se r e p o n d e n t " ) . 7 N o m a t t e r — B e n j a m i n ' s tendentiousness o f t e n takes the f o r m of an insistent blindness, and if all of h u m a n history is ultimately expendable, there is n o reason to expect a particular p o e m to escape the teleological bias of his t h o u g h t . W h a t is i m p o r t a n t is to detect h o w or w h e r e fallen art can be redeemed, and in order to d o this B e n j a m i n invents the t e r m s in w h i c h art presumably m o u r n s w h a t it has lost. *

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Benjamin's remarks on Baudelaire's " C o r r e s p o n d a n c e s " f o r m u l a t e irretrievable loss in aesthetic terms. W h e n the experience of c o r r e s p o n dence presents itself as the beautiful, " t h e ritual value of art a p p e a r s " ("Baudelaire," 182). N o w the k n o w n ritualistic origins of certain f o r m s of art (the origin, for example, of Western tragedy in the religiously significant reenactments of familiar myths) are not in themselves an a r g u m e n t for the superiority of ritual in art. What exactly have w e lost in losing the ritual value of art? We can look to " T h e Work of A r t in the Age of Mechanical R e p r o d u c t i o n " for an answer to this question. " T h e w h o l e sphere of authenticity is outside technical—and, of course, n o t only technical—reproducibility." W h y ? Because authenticity depends o n " t h e presence of the original," and the quality of the actual w o r k of art's presence is always depreciated as a result of " t h e situations i n t o w h i c h the p r o d u c t of mechanical r e p r o d u c t i o n can be b r o u g h t . " For example, "technical r e p r o d u c t i o n can put the copy of the original into situations w h i c h w o u l d be o u t of reach for the original itself. A b o v e all, it enables the original to meet the beholder halfway, be it in the f o r m of a p h o t o graph or a p h o n o g r a p h r e c o r d . " T h e a r g u m e n t , as w e m i g h t expect, is n o t excessively clear, since by " t h e original" B e n j a m i n seems to m e a n b o t h an original w o r k of art and, say, the landscape an artist paints. P h o tographic r e p r o d u c t i o n of w o r k s of art and of scenes of nature can " d e preciate" the originals by the very skill w i t h w h i c h they " b r i n g o u t those aspects of the original that are unattainable to the naked eye yet accessible to the lens, w h i c h is adjustable and chooses its angle at w i l l . " As B e n j a m i n says: " T h i s [effect of depreciation] holds not only for the w o r k of

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art b u t also, f o r instance, f o r a landscape w h i c h passes in r e v i e w b e f o r e the spectator in a m o v i e " ( " T h e W o r k of A r t , " 2 2 0 - 2 2 1 ) . We m a y w o n der w h y paintings in an earlier age of m a n u a l r e p r o d u c t i o n did n o t d e preciate the aspects of n a t u r e they depicted. A Renaissance r e n d e r i n g o f a Tuscan landscape certainly h a d the effect of p u t t i n g the original " i n t o situations w h i c h w o u l d be o u t of reach f o r the original i t s e l f " (even if t h o s e situations w e r e limited t o a patron's h o u s e or, later, a public m u s e u m ) . N o m a t t e r — B e n j a m i n is less concerned w i t h d a m a g e d originals than w i t h the p r e p o n d e r a n c e , n o w , of art f o r m s in w h i c h no one copy has m o r e w o r t h than a n y o t h e r copy. T h e r e is n o original against w h i c h t h e value of each c o p y can be m e a s u r e d ; indeed, there is nothing but copies. T h i s is of course t r u e of film, in w h i c h all copies p r o d u c e d w i t h the s a m e technical expertise are of equal aesthetic value; as l o n g as there are excellent copies a r o u n d , w e d o n o t need the original roll of film to appreciate Chaplin's genius. T h i s also applies to musical r e c o r d i n g s p r o d u c e d inside a r e c o r d i n g studio, w h e r e — u n l i k e t h e r e c o r d i n g of a live p e r f o r m a n c e — there is n o full o r finished p e r f o r m a n c e that actually t o o k place p r i o r to, o r apart f r o m , its existence o n records, o n t h o u s a n d s of copies each o n e of w h i c h is as original as all the o t h e r s . 8 To have an original w o u l d be to have s o m e t h i n g u n i q u e ; it is the o n l y version o f a w o r k of art that is n o t a c o p y o f t h e w o r k . T h e original is u n i q u e in that it is o n l y itself; it is i n c o m p a t i b l e w i t h the v e r y n o t i o n s of copies o r versions. U n i q u e n e s s in B e n j a m i n docs n o t have the r o m a n t i c or avant-gardist c o n n o t a t i o n s of s o m e t h i n g i n c o m p a r a b l e , of p s y c h o logical o r aesthetic originality, o f a w o r k w i t h o u t m o d e l s , a w o r k , in short, f o r w h i c h t h e tradition c a n n o t account. O n the c o n t r a r y : " t h e u n i q u e n e s s of a w o r k of art is inseparable f r o m its b e i n g e m b e d d e d in t h e fabric o f t r a d i t i o n . " O r , to p u t this in t e r m s o f authenticity: " T h e a u thenticity of a t h i n g is the essence of all that is transmissible f r o m its b e g i n n i n g , r a n g i n g f r o m its substantive d u r a t i o n to its t e s t i m o n y to t h e history w h i c h it has e x p e r i e n c e d . " Historical t e s t i m o n y is j e o p a r d i z e d w h e n the original o r u n i q u e w o r k of art can n o l o n g e r be located, disappears. Interestingly e n o u g h , then, the value of the original is i n s e p a rable f r o m its i m m e r s i o n in a h i s t o r y that m a y in fact m a k e its u n i q u e n e s s p r o b l e m a t i c . If, f o r e x a m p l e , the tradition is itself "alive a n d e x t r e m e l y c h a n g e a b l e , " an art objcct will have different m e a n i n g s at different m o m e n t s . " A n ancient statue o f Venus, f o r e x a m p l e , s t o o d in a different traditional c o n t e x t w i t h the Greeks, w h o m a d e it an object of v e n e r a t i o n , than w i t h the clerics of the M i d d l e Ages, w h o v i e w e d it as an o m i n o u s i d o l " ( " T h e W o r k o f A r t , " 223, 221). To w h a t e x t e n t is t h e statue i n d e p e n d e n t of these different meanings? O n the o n e h a n d , the object's a u thenticity is inseparable f r o m its transmissibility, f r o m its variability as a locus of sense w i t h i n a history of responses to it. O n t h e o t h e r h a n d , t h e

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h i s t o r y o f v a r i a b l e sense is itself a u t h e n t i c a t e d b y t h e p e r m a n e n t p r e s e n c e w i t h i n it o f an u n c h a n g i n g , u n i q u e o b j e c t : t h e o r i g i n a l , n o n r e p r o d u c i b l e w o r k o f art. We b e g i n t o see t h a t t h e v a l u e o f an o r i g i n a l m a y b e t h a t we can never know it as an original. We k n o w t h e s t a t u e o f V e n u s o n l y as a h i s t o r y o f c o n t i n g e n t i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s , at o n c e a b s o l u t e l y essential t o t h e m a n d infinitely r e m o v e d f r o m t h e m . In o t h e r w o r d s , w e k n o w t h e o b j e c t i t s e l f — i n its u n c h a n g i n g u n i q u e ness as a n o n r e p r o d u c i b l e o r i g i n a l — a s a p h e n o m e n o n o f d i s t a n c e . W h a t w e see o f t h e o r i g i n a l is its aura, w h i c h is precisely w h a t s e p a r a t e s us f r o m it. 9 A u r a is " t h e u n i q u e p h e n o m e n o n o f a d i s t a n c e , h o w e v e r close it m a y b e . " In " T h e W o r k o f A r t in t h e A g e o f M e c h a n i c a l R e p r o d u c t i o n , " B e n j a m i n p r o p o s e s this as a d e f i n i t i o n o f t h e a u r a o f n a t u r a l o b j e c t s (he speaks o f t h e aura o f a m o u n t a i n r a n g e w h e n it is l o o k e d at b y s o m e o n e " r e s t i n g o n a s u m m e r a f t e r n o o n " [222]), a l t h o u g h in a n o t e t o t h e essay h e specifies t h a t this f o r m u l a f o r t h e aura " r e p r e s e n t s n o t h i n g b u t t h e f o r m u l a t i o n o f t h e cult value o f t h e w o r k o f art in c a t e g o r i e s o f space a n d t i m e p e r c e p t i o n " (243). In art, t h e n , " t h e u n i q u e p h e n o m e n o n o f a d i s t a n c e " has t o d o w i t h " c u l t v a l u e . " T h i s is crucial, a l t h o u g h it s h o u l d also b e m e n t i o n e d t h a t in still a n o t h e r c o n t e x t B e n j a m i n , s p e a k i n g o f P r o u s t ' s memoire involontaire, identifies aura as " t h e a s s o c i a t i o n s w h i c h . . . t e n d t o cluster a r o u n d t h e o b j e c t o f a p e r c e p t i o n , " t h u s s u g g e s t i n g t h a t t h e aura is w h a t m a k e s o b j e c t s f a m i l i a r t o us ( " B a u d e l a i r e , " 186). B u t this w o u l d b e a superficial r e a d i n g ( o n e p e r h a p s s t r a t e g i c a l l y e n c o u r a g e d b y B e n j a m i n h i m s e l f ) o f h o w t h e aura affects o u r p e r c e p t i o n o f art o b j e c t s a n d , m o r e specifically, o f t h e effect o f " a s s o c i a t i o n s " o n t h a t p e r c e p t i o n . T r a n s p o s e d t o t h e h i s t o r y o f art, t h e a s s o c i a t i o n s g a t h ered a r o u n d o b j e c t s in o u r p e r s o n a l e x p e r i e n c e (each p e r s o n ' s h i s t o r y is in l a r g e p a r t t h e h i s t o r y o f t h e o b j e c t s in his o r h e r life) can b e c o m p a r e d to those "different traditional contexts" t h r o u g h w h i c h the ancient statue o f V e n u s has m o v e d in t h e W e s t e r n t r a d i t i o n . Yet B e n j a m i n ' s e m p h a s i s o n t h e sense o f distance as central t o t h e effect o f t h e a u r a m a k e s it clear t h a t even t h e m o s t f a m i l i a r i z i n g associations leave t h e o b j e c t itself i n t a c t in its i n t r i n s i c u n k n o w a b i l i t y . I n d e e d , as h e explicitly says, t h e p r i m a r y effect o f t h e a u r a — I a m t e m p t e d to say its p r i m a r y f u n c t i o n — i s t o m a k e t h e original, t h e u n i q u e w o r k o f art unapproachable: Distance is the opposite of closeness. T h e essentially distant object is the unapproachable one. Unapproachability is indeed a major quality of the cult image. True to its nature, it remains "distant, however close it may be." The closeness which one may gain f r o m its subject matter does not impair the distance which it retains in its appearance. ( " T h e Work of A r t , " 243) T h e loss o f t h e o r i g i n a l in art is m e r e l y t h e m o d e r n sign o f a m u c h g r e a t e r loss, o n e t h a t p r e d a t e s m o d e r n i t y : t h e loss o f t h e cult o r o f ritual

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as the expression of " t h e c o n t e x t u a l i n t e g r a t i o n of art in t r a d i t i o n . " Indeed, " t h e u n i q u e value o f the ' a u t h e n t i c ' w o r k of art has its basis in ritual, the location of its original use v a l u e " ( 2 2 3 - 2 2 4 ) . In o t h e r w o r d s , t h e authenticity of art has little to d o w i t h qualities intrinsic to the object; it is a f u n c t i o n of t h e originally " c c r e m o n i a l c h a r a c t e r " of artistic p e r f o r m a n c e ( " B a u d e l a i r e , " 188). O r , m o r e exactly, since that w h i c h creates the inestimable value of an original is u n k n o w a b l e o r u n a p p r o a c h a b l e , w e can recognize and certify that value only in t e r m s of " u s e v a l u e . " For B e n j a m i n , the sacredncss of t h e original can be established o n l y b y an aesthetic of reception. W h a t he saw as t h e fascist acstheticizing of t h e political (which, he w r o t e , could only c u l m i n a t e in war) c a n n o t b e a u thentically o p p o s e d b y the c o m m u n i s t politicizing of art. B o t h alternatives are possible because of a cataclysmic shift in the c o n t e x t of art's reception f r o m ritual to politics. Ideally, t h e fascist and c o m m u n i s t uses o f art w o u l d both be reversed in o r d e r t o reinstate the cultic value of art, its reintegration into ritual. *

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In a sense, then, o u r m o s t u r g e n t task is to m a k e the w o r k o f art u n a p proachable again. If B e n j a m i n looks closely at particular w o r k s ( w h i c h in fact he does n o t ; that is merely his a n n o u n c e d intention), it is in o r d e r t o seek o u t t h o s e places w h e r e the w o r k leaps back or away f r o m us, w h e r e a distancing aura m i g h t i n t e r v e n e b e t w e e n art a n d its audience. A r t can be r e d e e m e d only b y b e i n g r e m y s t i f i e d . T h a t w e are dealing w i t h a m y s t i f i c a t i o n — a n d , as I will a r g u e in a m o m e n t , w i t h an inescapably political m y s t i f i c a t i o n — i s clear f r o m B e n j a m i n ' s essays o n " T h e Task of t h e T r a n s l a t o r " and " O n L a n g u a g e as Such a n d o n t h e L a n g u a g e of M a n . " " N a m i n g , " he writes in t h e latter piece, "is that b y w h i c h n o t h i n g b e y o n d it is c o m m u n i c a t e d and in w h i c h l a n g u a g e itself c o m m u n i c a t e s itself absolutely." "In naming the mental being of man communicates itself to God."10 B e n j a m i n defines t h e Fall as a fall f r o m n a m i n g , as the n a m e s t e p p i n g o u t s i d e o f itself and lapsing into a d e g r a d e d status in w h i c h l a n g u a g e b e c o m e s k n o w l e d g e of things as well as of g o o d and evil. " G o d m a d e t h i n g s k n o w a b l e in their n a m e s . M a n , h o w e v e r , n a m e s t h e m acc o r d i n g to k n o w l e d g e . " K n o w l e d g e is t h e postlapsarian curse that c o n d e m n s us to a m e d i a t e d relation to t h i n g s (whereas in G o d the " n a m e because it is i n w a r d l y identical w i t h t h e creative w o r d , [is] t h e p u r e m e d i u m o f k n o w l e d g e " ) . All art manifests this fall, f o r it never rests " o n t h e u l t i m a t e essence o f l a n g u a g e - m i n d , b u t o n l a n g u a g e - m i n d c o n f i n e d t o things, even if in c o n s u m m a t e b e a u t y . " 1 1 So it is n o t a question o f o p p o s i n g the m o d e r n to t h e p r e m o d e r n , b u t rather of positing a p r e h i s t o r i c a l — m o r e precisely here, a p r e l a p s a r i a n — state o f language. Ritualized art is already a fall f r o m t h e creative w o r d .

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T h i s docs n o t m a k e B e n j a m i n ' s implicit nostalgia f o r ritual any less significant. For w h a t m i g h t be called a materialist reading o f his w o r k requires that w e give emphasis n o t to t h e speculations o n Genesis in t h e essay o n language, b u t rather to the historical derivatives o r c o n s e q u e n c e s of t h e distinction in that piece b e t w e e n " l a n g u a g e as s u c h " (the i n w a r d identity o f t h e n a m e w i t h the creative w o r d of G o d ) a n d " t h e l a n g u a g e of m a n . " T h e o n t o l o g y of l a n g u a g e outlined in t h e essay o n l a n g u a g e can be t h o u g h t of as t h e abstract s u p e r s t r u c t u r e — o r , in p s y c h o a n a l y t i c t e r m s , as t h e repressive s u b l i m a t i o n — w h i c h at once obscures and i l l u m i nates the political implications o f Benjamin's m o u r n i n g over t h e loss o f art's original " u s e v a l u e " in ritual. It theologically legitimizes t h e d e valuation of k n o w l e d g e (by k n o w l e d g e w e need m e a n n o t h i n g m o r e than o u r represented relations to the w o r l d ) w h i c h is also present, m o r e n a kedly, in B e n j a m i n ' s fastidious critique of the need of c o n t e m p o r a r y masses to " g e t close" to art objects. T h e cult value of art helped t o p r e vent art f r o m falling into t h e debased c o n d i t i o n o f k n o w a b l e , a p p r o a c h able objects. O n c e w e m o v e f r o m A d a m i t e perfection t o postlapsarian history, h o w e v e r , u n a p p r o a c h a b i l i t y c a n n o t help h a v i n g political i m p l i cations. To say that " t h e earliest art w o r k s originated in t h e service of a r i t u a l " is also to describe a t y p e o f " i n t r o d u c t i o n of aesthetics i n t o political life" ( " T h e W o r k of A r t , " 223, 241). T h e c o m m u n a l cohesiveness a p p a r e n t l y served b y such rituals has a special appeal f o r a p e r i o d , like ours, in w h i c h a s t r o n g sense of b e l o n g i n g to a c o m m u n i t y , especially at t h e national level, has b e c o m e e x t r e m e l y p r o b l e m a t i c , given t h e s u f f e r i n g and t h e d e s t r u c t i o n that loyalty to a n a t i o n has been m a d e to vindicate. B u t in t e n d i n g to idealize m o r e o r less p r i m i t i v e versions of collective life, w e can easily forget, or at least neglect, t h e fact that c e r e m o n i e s celebrating a c o m m u n i t y ' s f o u n d i n g m y t h s and shared values always have the f u n c t i o n o f p e r p e t u a t i n g traditional structures o f p o w e r . U s i n g a Foucaultian distinction, w e can say that it is n o t necessary to believe naively that the aestheticizing of politics in religious rituals was e v e r — a t a particular m o m e n t in h i s t o r y and b y particular i n d i v i d u a l s — i n t e n d e d to serve certain structures o f p o w e r in o r d e r to recognize such an effect as their strategic f u n c t i o n . T h e cultic use value o f art that B e n j a m i n claims w e have lost is actually an archaic version of t h e fascist use o f art as he dramatically defines it in " T h e W o r k of A r t in t h e A g e of M e c h a n i cal R e p r o d u c t i o n " : t h e aestheticizing of politics. 1 2 Ritual mystifies art f o r political p u r p o s e s . It is the perfect antithesis n o t only, as B e n j a m i n h i m s e l f saw, to such mass art f o r m s as film, b u t to a p r o f o u n d m o d e r n sense of art as a m y s t e r i o u s l y errant p h e n o m e n o n , as likely " t o b e " a n y w h e r e ( w i t h o u t that " b e i n g " having a n y t h i n g essential a b o u t it)—a sense o f art as at once familiar and defamiliarizing, as s i m u l taneously delineating and erasing b o u n d a r i e s , as, finally, uniquely without

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authority. Ritual obscures o r f r a n k l y suppresses this aspect o f art; it is t h e c o n s u m m a t e institutionalizing o f art, the s o l e m n assigning t o art of an authoritative social " p l a c e . " A n d that is w h a t art has, m o s t p r o f o u n d l y , lost: " w h a t is really j e o p a r d i z e d w h e n the historical t e s t i m o n y is affected is t h e a u t h o r i t y o f the o b j e c t " ( " T h e W o r k of A r t , " 221). As w e have seen, such a u t h o r i t y d e p e n d s o n t h e object's unapproachability, o n its being a sacred object rather that the object of o u r " k n o w l e d g e , " of o u r representations. A collective participation in ritual does n o t b r i n g t h e sacred object nearer. Indeed, the c o m m u n a l value of ritualized c e r e m o n y d e p e n d s on an implicit willingness t o be mystified, to share a sense o f awe, that is, of b e i n g close to o t h e r s in a collectively experienced distance f r o m an object of veneration. T h e authenticity of B e n j a m i n ' s original is identical to its p o w e r of m y s t i f i c a t i o n . If, h o w e v e r , B e n j a m i n sees all h i s t o r y as a fall f r o m A d a m i t e being, h e can afford to s o u n d a l m o s t r e m a r k a b l y progressive. Precisely because t h e regressive tendencies in Benjamin's t h o u g h t transcend historical r e g r e s siveness, he never behaves like an aesthetic o r political reactionary. T h u s the m o d e r n period can even appear to be celebrated f o r its h a v i n g e m a n cipated the w o r k of art f r o m "its parasitical d e p e n d e n c e o n r i t u a l " ( " T h e W o r k of A r t , " 224). T h e kind o f t i m e B e n j a m i n is interested in is n o t t i m e at all, and t h e r e f o r e t h e past is irrelevant t o it. H e k n e w , as P r o u s t k n e w (for very different purposes), that o u r only chance f o r e x p e r i e n c i n g the timeless (or s o m e t h i n g w e feel t e m p t e d to call the timeless) lies in a special t y p e of receptivity to t h e present. So B e n j a m i n p r o m o t e s " t h e n o t i o n of a present w h i c h is n o t a transition, b u t in w h i c h t i m e stands still a n d has c o m e to a s t o p . " O n l y in that i m m o b i l i z e d present can w e p e r h a p s "blast o p e n the c o n t i n u u m of h i s t o r y . " Such s t a t e m e n t s express n o t only Benjamin's critique of a cause-and-effect reading of historical t i m e but, m o r e positively, set t h e conceptual and experiential p r e c o n d i tion f o r w h a t he called a Jetzzeit, a " t i m e of t h e n o w " that can be " s h o t t h r o u g h w i t h chips of Messianic t i m e " ( " T h e s e s o n t h e P h i l o s o p h y o f H i s t o r y , " 262—263). Such chips c o r r o d e t h e present m o r e t h a n a n y historical past or f u t u r e could ever h o p e to do. For t h e Messiah, as B e n j a m i n w r i t e s in the " T h e o l o g i c o - P o l i t i c a l F r a g m e n t , " " c o n s u m m a t e s all history, in the sense that he alone r e d e e m s , completes, creates its relation to the messianic." T h a t c o n s u m m a t i o n is also a c o n s u m i n g ; Messianic t i m e burns away h i s t o r y in a r e d e m p t i v e conflagration. N a t u r e itself is messianic " b y reason of its eternal a n d total passing away. To strive after such passing . . . is the task of w o r l d politics, w h o s e m e t h o d m u s t be called n i h i l i s m . " 1 3 W i t h o u t messianic time, h i s t o r y is always n a t u r e , u n r e d e e m e d existence. T h e m o d e r n city and m o d e r n t e c h n o l o g y m a k e even m o r e visible, s o m e w h a t paradoxically, t h e bare, d e n u d e d aspect o f n o n m e s s i a n i c being. B e n j a m i n defines Baudelaircan spleen as e x p o s i n g

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" t h e passing m o m e n t in all its nakedness. To his h o n o r , the m e l a n c h o l y m a n sees t h e earth revert to a m e r e state o f n a t u r e . N o b r e a t h o f p r e h i s t o r y s u r r o u n d s it: there is n o a u r a " ( " B a u d e l a i r e , " 185). In Benjamin's aesthetic, the critic seeks to m a k e even m o r e visible, to exacerbate, the artist's representation o f m o r t i f i e d life; his reading is g o v erned b y a k i n d of negative s e m i o l o g y according to w h i c h Baudelairean spleen, f o r e x a m p l e , o r the images o f decay and death in G e r m a n b a r o q u e tragedy, can actually be taken as " h i e r o g l y p h s o f r e d e e m e d l i f e , " as i m ages w a i t i n g to be blasted o u t of h i s t o r y b y a m o v e m e n t of t r a n s c e n d e n c e t o w h i c h they negatively point. 1 4 R u i n s , B e n j a m i n w r i t e s in t h e Trauerspiel study, " t h e h i g h l y significant f r a g m e n t , t h e r e m n a n t is, in fact, t h e finest material in b a r o q u e creation. For it is c o m m o n practice in t h e literature of t h e b a r o q u e to pile u p f r a g m e n t s ceaselessly, w i t h o u t a n y strict idea of a goal, and, in the u n r e m i t t i n g expectation of a miracle, t o take the repetition of stereotypes f o r a process of i n t e n s i f i c a t i o n . " B u t t h e " m i r a c l e " is o f course a miracle of reading, and all this inflated l a n g u a g e is designed to celebrate the p o w e r of c r i t i c i s m — m o r e specifically, o f philosophical c r i t i c i s m — o v e r art. " C r i t i c i s m means t h e m o r t i f i c a t i o n o f t h e w o r k s , " t h e promotion of b e a u t y to k n o w l e d g e . " T h e object o f p h i l o sophical criticism is to s h o w that the f u n c t i o n of artistic f o r m is as f o l lows: to m a k e historical c o n t e n t , such as provides t h e basis o f every i m p o r t a n t w o r k of art, i n t o a philosophical t r u t h . " 1 5 We s h o u l d n o t u n derestimate t h e seductive appeal of this B e n j a m i n i a n a r r o g a n c e . T h e r e d e m p t i v e a u t h o r i t y o f art, it is suggested, can be exercised o n l y b y criticism. A r t is blind to t h e r e d e m p t i v e possibilities i n h e r e n t in its r e p r e sentations o f fallen being. T h e culture o f r e d e m p t i o n u l t i m a t e l y d e p e n d s o n a s u p p l e m e n t a l voice, t h e a u t h o r i t a t i v e core o f the critical, p h i l o s o p h i cal, o r psychoanalytic interpreter, of the o n e who knows. In B e n j a m i n , t h e claim of m u c h of o u r c o n t e m p o r a r y criticism to a m a s t e r f u l a u t h o r i t y (masterful in spite of, in reality as a result of, its p r e s u m a b l y privileged d e m y s t i f i c a t i o n s of textual authority) is vindicated as an eschatological necessity. Philosophical criticism t u r n s o u t to be n o t h i n g less t h a n t h e goal of art and of history. B e n j a m i n has b e c o m e t h e m o s t p r e s t i g i o u s p r e c u r s o r of this a t t e m p t e d a p p r o p r i a t i o n of literature b y p h i l o s o p h y — t h e latter's " i n s i g h t s " i n t o t h e f o r m e r ' s " b l i n d n e s s " — w h i c h is t h e m o r e o r less secret goal of m u c h o f w h a t w e call d e c o n s t r u c t i v e criticism. Messianic t i m e is, in any case, i n t e r m i t t e n t , a n d it is d i s c o n t i n u o u s w i t h historical time. W i t h i n h i s t o r y there is the m e m o r y , o r t h e fantasy, of a t i m e w h e n t h e w o r k of art, " e m b e d d e d in the fabric of t r a d i t i o n , " had n o t yet lost its uniqueness, its authenticity. In a n o t e to " T h e W o r k of A r t in t h e A g e o f Mechanical R e p r o d u c t i o n , " B e n j a m i n w r i t e s that t o the extent that the cult o f value o f painting is secularized, " t h e u n i q u e n e s s

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o f t h e p h e n o m e n a w h i c h h o l d s w a y in t h e cult i m a g e is m o r e a n d m o r e displaced b y t h e e m p i r i c a l u n i q u e n e s s o f t h e c r c a t o r o r o f his c r e a t i v e a c h i e v e m e n t . " A u t h e n t i c i t y " a l w a y s t r a n s c e n d s , " b u t is n o n e t h e l e s s s o m e w h a t t h r e a t e n e d by, " m e r e g e n u i n e n e s s . T h i s is p a r t i c u l a r l y a p p a r e n t in t h e c o l l e c t o r w h o a l w a y s retains s o m e traces o f t h e fetishist a n d w h o , b y o w n i n g t h e w o r k o f art, shares in its ritual p o w e r " (244). In c u l t u r e s o f t h e past, t h e art o b j e c t w a s a sacred o b j e c t w h o s e u n i q u e n e s s w a s i n s e p a r a b l e f r o m its u n a p p r o a c h a b i l i t y . In a secular culture the sanctuary of art is the private collection. T h e logical c o n s e q u e n c e o f B e n j a m i n ' s fantasies a b o u t a u t h e n t i c o r i g i n a l s is t h e g r a n t i n g o f an a l m o s t p r i e s t l y f u n c t i o n t o t h e capitalist c o n n o i s s e u r , t h e rich collector. In a talk a b o u t b o o k c o l l e c t i n g , h e said: " T o r e n e w t h e o l d w o r l d — t h a t is t h e collector's d e e p e s t desire w h e n h e is d r i v e n t o a c q u i r e n e w t h i n g s , a n d t h a t is w h y a c o l l e c t o r o f o l d e r b o o k s is closer t o t h e w e l l s p r i n g s o f c o l l e c t i n g t h a n t h e a c q u i r e r o f l u x u r y e d i t i o n s . " In a p r i v a t e collection, t h e b o o k o r t h e p a i n t i n g is o n c e again " e m b e d d e d in a t r a d i t i o n , " b u t t h e t r a d i t i o n — t h e historical c o n t i n u i t y — i s n o w p r o v i d e d b y a p r i v a t e g e n e a l o g y . " A c t u ally, i n h e r i t a n c e is t h e s o u n d e s t w a y o f a c q u i r i n g a c o l l e c t i o n . F o r a c o l lector's a t t i t u d e t o w a r d his p o s s e s s i o n s s t e m s f r o m an o w n e r ' s f e e l i n g o f r e s p o n s i b i l i t y t o w a r d his p r o p e r t y . T h u s it is, in t h e h i g h e s t sense, t h e a t t i t u d e o f an heir, a n d t h e m o s t d i s t i n g u i s h e d trait o f a c o l l e c t i o n w i l l a l w a y s b e its t r a n s m i s s i b i l i t y . " In his c r i t i q u e o f m o d e r n i t y , B e n j a min—unintentionally but ineluctably—exempts a kind of aristocracy of taste w i t h i n t h e b o u r g e o i s i e , an a r i s t o c r a c y w h i c h i m p l i c i t l y r e f o r m u l a t e s t r a n s m i s s i b l e values as i n h e r i t e d m o n e y . " F o r a c o l l e c t o r — a n d I m e a n a real collector, a c o l l e c t o r as h e o u g h t t o b e — o w n e r s h i p is t h e m o s t i n t i m a t e r e l a t i o n s h i p t h a t o n e can h a v e t o o b j e c t s " ( " U n p a c k i n g M y L i b r a r y : A T a l k a b o u t B o o k C o l l e c t i n g , " 61, 66, 67). T h e r e i n lie t h e b e g i n n i n g s o f a s t a r t l i n g v i n d i c a t i o n o f p r i v a t e p r o p e r t y . T h i s is c e r t a i n l y n o t w h e r e B e n j a m i n t h o u g h t he was going but, until the Messiah comes, there m a y b e n o w h e r e else t o g o . Baudelaire B a u d e l a i r e b e g i n s his essay o n C o n s t a n t i n G u y s — " L c P e i n t r e de la vie m o d e r n e " — w i t h an a t t e m p t " t o establish a r a t i o n a l a n d historical t h e o r y o f b e a u t y , in c o n t r a s t t o t h e a c a d e m i c t h e o r y o f an u n i q u e a n d a b s o l u t e b e a u t y . " T h e b e a u t i f u l "is a l w a y s a n d i n e v i t a b l y o f a d o u b l e c o m p o s i t i o n " ; it is c o m p o s e d o f an eternal, and of a relative, circumstantial element, which will be, if you like, whether severally or all at once, the age, its fashions, its morals, its emotions. Without this second element, which might be described as the

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amusing, enticing, appetizing icing on the divine cake, the first element would be beyond our powers of digestion or appreciation, neither adapted nor suitable to human nature.' 6 B e n j a m i n , w h o q u o t e s t h e c e n t r a l p a r t o f this d e f i n i t i o n in " T h e Paris o f t h e S e c o n d E m p i r e in B a u d e l a i r e , " c o m m e n t s : " O n e c a n n o t say t h a t this is a p r o f o u n d a n a l y s i s . " 1 7 O n e can h a r d l y d i s a g r e e w i t h this j u d g m e n t , a l t h o u g h t h e r e m a y be m o r e i n t e r e s t i n g t h i n g s t o n o t e a b o u t t h e p a s s a g e t h a n its p a t e n t lack o f p r o f u n d i t y . M o r e i n t e r e s t i n g , p o s s i b l y e v e n m o r e d a m n i n g , is t h a t B a u d e l a i r e ' s d u a l i t y n e a r l y collapscs u n d e r t h e e x c e s s i v e w e i g h t o f o n e o f its t e r m s . N o t o n l y is t h e " q u a n t i t y " o f t h e e t e r n a l e l e m e n t " e x c e s s i v e l y d i f f i c u l t t o d e t e r m i n e " ; in r e l i g i o u s art, " t h e i n g r e d i e n t o f e t e r n a l b e a u t y reveals itself o n l y w i t h t h e p e r m i s s i o n a n d u n d e r t h e discipline o f t h e r e l i g i o n t o w h i c h t h e artist b e l o n g s . " Finally, in p e r i o d s t h a t " i n o u r v a n i t y w e c h a r a c t e r i z e as civilized . . . t h e e t e r n a l p a r t o f b e a u t y will b e veiled a n d e x p r e s s e d if n o t b y f a s h i o n s , at least b y t h e p a r t i c u l a r t e m p e r a m e n t o f t h e a r t i s t " (3; 685). W h a t w e see in art is " t h e relative, c i r c u m s t a n t i a l e l e m e n t " ; t h e " e t e r n a l e l e m e n t " w o u l d a p p e a r t o be m o r e of a theoretical a s s u m p t i o n — o r perhaps a theoretical necess i t y — t h a n a d e t e r m i n a b l e aspect o f w o r k s o f art t h e m s e l v e s . F u r t h e r m o r e this p a s s a g e , like so m u c h o f B a u d e l a i r e ' s critical w r i t i n g , is c h a r a c t e r i z e d b y a c e r t a i n p r e c i o s i t y o f r h e t o r i c t h a t places us at s o m e distance f r o m its ideas. " C ' e s t ici une belle occasion, en verite, p o u r e t a b l i r u n e t h e o r i e r a t i o n n e l l e et h i s t o r i q u e d u b e a u " ; "Je defie q u ' o n d e c o u v r e u n e c h a n t i l l o n q u e l c o n q u c d e b e a u t e " ; " J e choisis, si I'on veut, les d e u x e c h e l o n s e x t r e m e s d e l ' h i s t o i r e " ; "Considirez, si cela vous plait, la p a r t i e eternellement subsistante c o m m e l a m e de l'art."18 T h e abstract a r g u m e n t w i t h its r e l i g i o u s g r o u n d is, as it w e r e , caressed a n d s o m e w h a t s o f t e n e d b y t h e i n t r o d u c t o r y p h r a s e s I h a v e italicized. T h e a r g u m e n t risks b e c o m i n g e l e g a n t l y dilletantish u n d e r t h e l i g h t b u t r e p e a t e d p r e s s u r e o f a c o a x i n g v o i c e calling a t t e n t i o n t o t h e m o v e s o f its a r g u m e n t s . It d r a w s a t t e n t i o n t o itself, e v e n w h i l e o b s c u r i n g its e x a c t r e l a t i o n t o t h e ideas b e i n g p r o p o s e d . T h i s d i s j u n c t i o n b e t w e e n t h e s p e a k e r a n d his ideas is m o r e difficult t o a c c o u n t f o r t h a n t h e m o r e f a m i l i a r i n c o n s i s t e n c i e s , t h r o u g h o u t B a u d e l a i r e ' s w o r k , w i t h i n t h e ideas t h e m s e l v e s : b e t w e e n , f o r e x a m p l e , d e m o n i c a n d idealistic n o t i o n s o f art, o r b e t w e e n s c o r n f u l a n d flatteringly r e s p e c t f u l v i e w s o f t h e b o u r g e o i s i e ' s r o l e as a n a u d i e n c e f o r h i g h art a n d an a r b i t e r o f c u l t u r a l values. T h e first s e c t i o n o f " L e P e i n t r e d e la vie m o d e r n e " g i v e s us s o m e t h i n g far m o r e elusive: a m o d e o f p r e s e n t a t i o n t h a t , i n s t e a d o f h i g h l i g h t i n g t h e c r u d e o p p o s i t i o n it a n x iously—at once deferentially and defiantly—introduces, turns our attent i o n t o a n e r v o u s , fussy, essentially reserved n a r r a t i v e p e r s o n a . Finally, n o t h i n g s u g g e s t s t h a t this r e s e r v e has a n y t h i n g t o d o w i t h intellectual

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d o u b t . It is a m o r e abstract reserve: the possible w i t h h o l d i n g of assent b y virtue of n o t h i n g m o r e than a slightly e x a g g e r a t e d consciousness of m e r e l y having t h e ideas a b o u t to be p u t f o r w a r d . C o u l d there be a " s e l f " definable p r i m a r i l y as the consciousness of its o w n intellectual or m o r a l character, as n o t h i n g m o r e than an a p p r e h e n s i v e m o d e of being? B y asking this question I d o n o t m e a n to suggest that Baudelaire is indifferent to the o p p o s i t i o n he makes b e t w e e n the eternal a n d the relative elements in art. Indeed, it is as if he h a d t o e m p h a s i z e that o p p o s i t i o n — w i t h its s h a k y s t r u c t u r e and logical c o n t r a d i c t i o n s — i n o r d e r t o reach a far m o r e original v i e w o f his o w n activity as a m o d e r n w r i t e r . Let us look m o r e closely at t h e p r e s u m e d d o u b l e n a t u r e of t h e beautiful. If the q u a n t i t y o f the eternal e l e m e n t of the b e a u t i f u l is "excessively d i f ficult t o d e t e r m i n e , " it is n o t quite invisible. In hieratic art, the eternal part manifests itself " u n d e r the discipline of t h e religion to w h i c h t h e artist b e l o n g s , " and in m o d e r n art it is at once "veiled and expressed if n o t b y fashion, at least b y the particular t e m p e r a m e n t of t h e a r t i s t . " In o t h e r w o r d s , the eternal is visible within t h o s e v e r y elements that B a u d e laire has j u s t defined as b e l o n g i n g to t h e relative or t h e circumstantial: t h e period, the fashions of that period, and p e r h a p s even w i t h i n t h e passions o f an author's "particular t e m p e r a m e n t . " A similar conclusion is reached w h e n Baudelaire r e t u r n s to the duality of art in section 4 o f " L e peintre de la vie m o d e r n e . " In traveling t h r o u g h "le g r a n d desert d ' h o m m e s " of u r b a n c r o w d s , G u y s is seeking s o m e t h i n g m o r e than " t h e f u g i t i v e pleasure o f c i r c u m s t a n c e . " W h a t he is l o o k i n g f o r is " m o d e r n i t y " ( " f o r I k n o w of n o better w o r d to express t h e idea I have in m i n d " ) , w h i c h , curiously e n o u g h , Baudelaire distinguishes f r o m the o c casion. O r rather, m o d e r n i t y — l i k e the eternal e l e m e n t o f t h e b e a u t i f u l — i s n o t i m m e d i a t e l y visible in t h e m o d e r n scene: G u y s m u s t " e x t r a c t f r o m fashion w h a t e v e r e l e m e n t it m a y contain o f p o e t r y w i t h i n h i s t o r y , " he m u s t "distill the eternal f r o m the t r a n s i t o r y . " M o d e r n i t y is " t h e e p h e m e r a l , the fugitive, the c o n t i n g e n t " in art, b u t t o express it is t o express w h a t is eternal in t h e e p h e m e r a l or the t r a n s i t o r y ( 1 2 - 1 3 ; 694-695). It is t e m p t i n g t o see n o t h i n g m o r e here than the d a n g e r o f a p p l y i n g t o o m u c h analytic pressure to such passages. B u t the a p p a r e n t c o n f u s i o n in t h e essay seems to m e w o r t h n o t i n g as a sign o f the difficulty B a u d e laire has in i m a g i n i n g h o w art can ever be anything but " r e l a t i v e " o r m o d ern. M o d e r n i t y docs have a specificity, b u t in o n e sense it is n o t historical. M o d e r n i t y is n o t (as it is f o r B e n j a m i n ) t h e privilege o f t h e m o d e r n age, w h i c h means that Baudelaire—all t h e signs of nostalgic rem e m b r a n c e n o t w i t h s t a n d i n g — d i d n o t t h i n k of his o w n t i m e as h a v i n g effected a radical break w i t h t h e past t h r o u g h r e v o l u t i o n a r y changes in t h e v e r y s t r u c t u r e o f h u m a n experience. " E v e r y old m a s t e r has h a d his

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o w n m o d e r n i t y " ; it is w h a t all a r t i s t s — a t all t i m e s — s e e k in their relation t o their o w n time. W h a t is special to t h e nineteenth c e n t u r y is p e r h a p s only its material e n v i r o n m e n t , an e n v i r o n m e n t necessarily different, f o r e x a m p l e , f r o m that of antiquity. T h u s in discussing a visual artist B a u d e laire gives special attention to certain d e v e l o p m e n t s in fashion, in t h e history of dress and f u r n i t u r e : " T h e draperies of R u b e n s o r Veronese will in n o way teach y o u h o w t o depict moire antique, satin ä la reine o r any o t h e r fabric of m o d e r n m a n u f a c t u r e , w h i c h w e see s u p p o r t e d a n d h u n g over crinoline o r starched m u s l i n petticoat. In t e x t u r e and w e a v e these are quite different f r o m t h e fabrics o f ancient Venice o r t h o s e w o r n at t h e c o u r t of C a t h e r i n e " (13; 695). T h e r e is n o t h i n g trivial a b o u t this; such t h i n g s c o n s t i t u t e t h e artist's materials, and his m o d e r n i t y is a f u n c t i o n o f his relation to that material. N o t only that: each artist's p r o s p e c t of b e c o m i n g a classic (of b e i n g c o n sidered w o r t h y o f attention b y f u t u r e generations) d e p e n d s n o t at all o n o b s c u r i n g the signs o f the historically c o n t i n g e n t in his w o r k , o n his a t t e m p t i n g to save his w o r k f r o m its i m m e r s i o n in t h e present, b u t rather o n t h e m o s t s c r u p u l o u s r e n d e r i n g of all t h e material supplied b y t h e p r e s ent. "In s h o r t , f o r any ' m o d e r n i t y ' t o b e w o r t h y of o n e day t a k i n g its place as ' a n t i q u i t y , ' it is necessary f o r t h e m y s t e r i o u s b e a u t y w h i c h h u m a n life accidentally puts i n t o it to be distilled f r o m i t . " A n d : " a l m o s t all o u r originality c o m e s f r o m the seal w h i c h T i m e i m p r i n t s o n o u r sensat i o n s " (13—14; 6 9 5 - 6 9 6 ) . 1 9 Baudelaire is fascinated b y t h e materials historically available to h i m , b u t he is n o t m a k i n g an a r g u m e n t f o r their superiority t o t h e materials of any o t h e r period. In s p e a k i n g o f t h o s e painters w h o represent scenes f r o m m o d e r n life, he writes: " T h e pleasure w h i c h w e derive f r o m t h e representation of the present is d u e n o t o n l y to t h e b e a u t y w i t h w h i c h it can b e invested, b u t also to its essential q u a l ity of being p r e s e n t " (1; 684). T h e present is, in o t h e r w o r d s , b o t h an alli m p o r t a n t and an e m p t y c a t e g o r y ; its value is n o t in w h a t it contains, b u t in its presentness. T h u s Benjamin's historical discriminations, t o t h e e x tent that they are i n t e n d e d as historical j u d g m e n t s , are irrelevant t o Baudelaire. W h a t interests Baudelaire is t h e presentness of any p e r i o d in history, and this b o t h gives an e x t r a o r d i n a r i l y rich historical c o n t e n t t o discussions of presentness in art a n d erases f r o m t h e concept o f m o d e r n i t y the B e n j a m i n i a n c o n n o t a t i o n s o f r u p t u r e a n d loss. R e t u r n n o w t o the difficult n o t i o n of an equivalence, o r p e r h a p s an overlapping, of t h e t r a n s i t o r y a n d the eternal. It is n o t a q u e s t i o n o f s i m ply t r a n s p o s i n g t h e materials o f m o d e r n life into literature o r p a i n t i n g ; there is, w e r e m e m b e r , the m y s t e r i o u s assertion that Guys's a b s o r p t i o n in c o n t e m p o r a r y fashion is an effort to disengage t h e eternal f r o m t h e transitory m o d e s of life in w h i c h it is l o d g e d . T h e n o t i o n of t h e eternal has n o t been discarded b u t displaced, and in a sense it has even m o r e

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value n o w than w h e n it s t o o d o n its o w n as o n e o f t h e t w o t e r m s o f Baudelaire's duality. T h e r e is n o t h i n g b u t t h e t r a n s i t o r y o r relative, b u t the t r a n s i t o r y t u r n s o u t to have n o value in itself. N o t o n l y is t h e p r e s entness of any historical present m o r e significant f o r an artist than t h e intrinsic w o r t h o f t h e historical materials he m u s t use; the value o f p r e s entness itself is that it can be m a d e to yield s o m e t h i n g w h o l l y different f r o m it. A n d yet Baudelaire never suggests that w h a t he calls the eternal will finally e m e r g e f r o m the t r a n s i t o r y as an i n d e p e n d e n t e l e m e n t , that it c a n — l i k e p u r e gold f r o m i m p u r e o r e — b e extracted a n d isolated f r o m t h e circumstantial. T h e artist can represent n o t h i n g b u t t h e transitory, b u t his representation is w i t h o u t value unless w e can see t h e t r a n s i t o r y taking a certain distance f r o m itself, s u p p l e m e n t i n g itself, p e r h a p s even n e g a t i n g itself. A f t e r explaining his pleasure in l o o k i n g at a series of e n g r a v i n g s f r o m t h e late eighteenth c e n t u r y and the pleasure o f f i n d i n g " t h e m o r a l a n d aesthetic f e e l i n g " of the time inscribed in t h e c o s t u m e s w o r n b y t h e f i g ures in t h e e n g r a v i n g s , Baudelaire writes: " T h e idea of b e a u t y w h i c h m a n creates f o r h i m s e l f i m p r i n t s itself o n his w h o l e attire, c r u m p l e s o r stiffens his dress, r o u n d s off o r squares his gesture, a n d in t h e l o n g r u n even e n d s b y s u b t l y p e n e t r a t i n g the v e r y features of his face. M a n e n d s b y l o o k i n g like his ideal s e l f " (2; 684). The beautiful is the effect of our discovering the nonrepresented in the represented. It is, I think, i m p o r t a n t t o see that the artist docs n o t s i m p l y discover that the e t e r n a l — o r the ideal—already exists in the transitory. If that w e r e the case, there w o u l d be n o tension at all b e t w e e n the t w o ; t h e artist w o u l d s i m p l y perceive h o w perfectly t h e relative incarnates the eternal, h o w adequate t h e f o r m e r is to t h e latter. In t h e passage j u s t q u o t e d , Baudelaire speaks o f seeing in e n g r a v i n g s f r o m the R e v o l u t i o n " t h e i d e a " that p e o p l e then h a d o f t h e beautiful, and w e can translate this t o m e a n their ideal o f t h e b e a u t i f u l . H e does n o t say that m a n is w h a t he w o u l d like t o be; rather, h e c o m e s to resemble (finit par ressembler) w h a t he w o u l d like t o be. T h e relation of t h e ideal t o t h e particular is a n a l o g o u s to that o f t h e eternal t o t h e transitory. T h e ideal a n d t h e eternal are t h e veiled presence o f w h a t t h e particular or t h e transitory lacks; they are t h e f o r m the circumstantial takes in aspiring to be different f r o m itself. In p o r t r a i t u r e , that difference is the space b e t w e e n i n c o m p l e t e a n d c o m p l e t e d individuality. T h e c o m p l e t i n g activity, Baudelaire argues in t h e section " D e l'Ideal et du m o d e l e " in t h e Salon de 1846, saves the artist f r o m the errors o f b o t h particularization and generalization. A p o r t r a i t in painting o r s c u l p t u r e s h o u l d be neither an " e x a c t i m i t a t i o n " n o r an " a b s o l u t e ideal"; "I prefer the Antinous to t h e Apollo Belvedere o r t h e Gladiator, because t h e Antinous is the ideal of the c h a r m i n g A n t i n o u s h i m s e l f . " T h e r e is " n o t h i n g absolute . . . n o t h i n g c o m p l e t e , thus e v e r y -

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t h i n g has t o b e c o m p l e t e d , a n d e v e r y ideal r e c a p t u r e d . " C o m p l e t i o n is, t h e n , t h e idealization o f an i n d i v i d u a l , n o t t h e d i r e c t r e n d e r i n g o f t h e m o d e l b u t t h e artist's m e m o r y o f t h e w o r l d " r e c o n s t r u c t e d o r r e s t o r e d b y b r u s h o r chisel t o t h e d a z z l i n g t r u t h o f its n a t i v e h a r m o n y . " " T r u t h " h e r e is a q u e s t i o n o f c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s : a certain t y p e o f skin r e q u i r e s a certain t y p e o f hair, as " s u c h a n d s u c h a h a n d d e m a n d s s u c h a n d s u c h a f o o t . " T h e p o r t r a i t is " a n i n d i v i d u a l p u t r i g h t b y an i n d i v i d u a l (I'individu redresse par I'individu)," a n d this " c o r r e c t i o n " consists in a relational recreation o f t h e m o d e l ' s b o d y . If " a r t is a k i n d o f m n c m o t e c h n y o f t h e b e a u t i f u l , " this is b e c a u s e in m e m o r y t h e artist creates t h e t e r m s f o r c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s , w h i c h m e a n s t h a t h e sees each p a r t o f his m o d e l ' s b o d y in r e l a t i o n t o o t h e r parts. 2 0 A n i n d i v i d u a l b o d y is c o m p l e t e d o r idealized (the t w o are s y n o n y m o u s here) to t h e e x t e n t t h a t it is d e m a t e r i a l i z e d b y relations e n t i r e l y i n t e r n a l t o its o w n s t r u c t u r e . T o c o m p l e t e o r idealize t h e r e f o r e has n o t h i n g t o d o w i t h t h a t p l e n i t u d e o f p r e s e n c e characteristic o f t h e u n i v e r s a l t y p e , t h e a b s o l u t e ideal; it s e e m s r a t h e r t o b e a q u e s t i o n o f " r e m e m b e r i n g " t h e m o d e l as c o m p o s e d o f f e a t u r e s each o n e o f w h i c h is c o n s t a n t l y " a s p i r i n g " t o w a r d , c o r r e s p o n d i n g w i t h , o t h e r f e a t u r e s related t o it b y v o l u m e o r t e x t u r e . A r t idealizes t h e m o d e l b y f o r g e t t i n g t h e f i n a l i t y o f t h e m o d e l ' s i n d i v i d u a l traits; w i t h o u t s u b s t i t u t i n g a u n i v e r s a l t y p e f o r an i n d i v i d u a l , t h e artist can n o n e t h e l e s s b e said t o be s u b v e r t i n g t h e n o t i o n o f i n d i v i d u a l i t y b y s u g g e s t i n g t h a t an i n d i v i d u a l , o r an i n d i v i d u a l trait, a l w a y s t e n d s t o b e in t h e space b e t w e e n its o w n m a t e r i a l p r e s e n c e a n d t h o s e o t h e r m a t e r i a l p r e s e n c e s w h i c h it b o t h r e m e m b e r s a n d t o w a r d w h i c h it p r o j e c t s c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s . W h a t B a u d e l a i r e calls t h e " b r o k e n l i n e " o f o u r " p o o r self' is t h e r e f o r e n o t s t r a i g h t e n e d t o c o n f o r m t o a u n i v e r s a l t o p o l o g y o f h u m a n lines in, f o r e x a m p l e , t h e s c u l p t e d m e m o r y o f A n t i n o u s . 2 1 B u t e v e n t h e resistant m a t e r i a l i t y o f t h e A n t i n o u s b u s t s u f f e r s — o r p r o f i t s — f r o m a loss o f d e n s i t y b e c a u s e it idealizes A n t i n o u s ' s b o d y . A n d t h a t idealizat i o n is t h e f o r m a l e a g e r n e s s o f each o f its p a r t s t o c o r r e s p o n d t o o t h e r p a r t s . Aesthetic idealization is the mobilizing of design. *

*

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T h e Baudelaircan aesthetic theorizes a relation to otherness that " L e P e i n t r e de la vie m o d e r n e " also discusses as a p h y s i c a l e x p e r i e n c e o f t h e artist h i m s e l f . T h e essay is p e r h a p s b e s t k n o w n f o r its d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e "perfect flaneur"—assimilated h e r e t o C o n s t a n t i n G u y s as a r t i s t — a s the lover of universal life [who] enters into the crowd as though it were an immense reservoir of electrical energy. O r we might liken him to a mirror as vast as the crowd itself; or to a kaleidoscope gifted with consciousness, responding to each one of its movements and reproducing the multiplicity of life and the flickering grace of all the elements of life. H e is an " I " with

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an insatiable appetite for the "non-I," at every instant rendering and explaining it in pictures more living than life itself, which is always unstable and fugitive. (9-10; 691-692) A conscious kaleidoscope: the self's i m m e r s i o n in the nonself strips it d o w n to a pure consciousness o f t h a t i m m e r s i o n . T h e "lover of universal life" enters the c r o w d n o t — a s Balzac m i g h t have said—in order to i m print himself on others, b u t in order to be carried along by the crowd's "grace m o u v a n t e , " to k n o w w h a t Baudelaire calls in the lines preceding this passage the " i m m e n s e j o y [of setting] u p house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of m o v e m e n t , in the midst of the f u gitive and the infinite (I'immense jouissance que d'elire domicile dans le nombre, dans I'ondoyant, dans le mouvement, dans le fitgitif et l'infini)." T h e self n o longer has its o w n place; it is "away f r o m h o m e (hors de soi)" and yet it feels " e v e r y w h e r e at h o m e " ; it is "at the centre of the w o r l d " and yet " h i d d e n f r o m the w o r l d " ( 9 - 1 0 ; 6 9 1 - 6 9 2 ) . T h e Baudelairean self is actively aware of its o w n passivity, even of its o w n erasure. W h a t m i g h t have been a relatively weak r e f o r m u l a t i o n of a doctrine of e m p a t h y becomes a daring identification of aesthetic perception w i t h erotic and divine excess. According to the following f r a g m e n t f r o m Mon Coeur mis ä nu, love is inherently prostitution: What is love? The need to go outside oneself. Man is an adoring animal. To adore is to sacrifice oneself and to prostitute oneself, Thus all love is prostitution. Adoration can only be u n d e r s t o o d in t e r m s superficially foreign to it: the lover can be completed as a lover only by realizing the ideal of p r o s t i t u t i o n — o f prostitution not as it may or may n o t be lived by prostitutes, b u t rather of prostitution purely defined as an unconditional availability to others. Ideally, the prostitute's self is completely circumscribcd by the other's desires: the prostituted self w o u l d be the w h o l l y adequate response to the other's d e m a n d for love. A n d such a f o r m u l a t i o n naturally aspires toward still another c o m p l e t i n g r e f o r m u l a t i o n : the ideal love to w h i c h a particular prostituted love corresponds is God's love for his creatures. " T h e m o s t prostituted being is the S u p r e m e Being (I'etrepar excellence), G o d Himself, since for every individual he is the friend above all others, since he is the c o m m o n , inexhaustible reservoir of love." 2 2 F r o m this perspective, G o d is indefinable not as the consequence of an i n c o m mensurability of being, b u t rather for the strictly naturalistic reason that there is n o t h i n g to be defined in absolute openness, in an unqualified readiness to take others in. T h e prostitute-lover-artist-God series attests to the power of recurrence

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in the universe, or to what might be called an e c o n o m y of replicative orders. Furthermore, for each term in the scries, love is an absolutizing of correspondences between the moi and the non-moi. And this implies a transgressive extension of the very notion of correspondences, which is no longer limited to either formal analogies or substantive resemblances and which has been stretched to include an identity of being. T h e prostituted " I " of the artist, the lover, or God corresponds to others not on the basis of similarities or of complementarity but in self-erasure, in fusion with others. T h e difficulty of linguistically describing this fusion is reflected in Baudelaire's hesitation about whether it should be described as "the need to go outside oneself" and an entering into others ("the lover of universal life" penetrates the crowd), or as a taking in of others (God is "the c o m m o n , inexhaustible reservoir of love," and, in "Le Peintre de la vie m o d e r n e , " the child—prefiguring the artist—absorbs and is possessed by "the picture of external life" [8; 690]). For Baudelaire, such terminological distinctions arc insignificant, for the entering into others is no more an imposition of the subject's will than a passive opening up to others. T h e Baudelairean artist—as well as the Baudelairean lover and the Baudelairean G o d — a r e androgynous not because they share so-called masculine and feminine features, but rather because the very notion of combining features is superseded by a sense of the c o m parative irrelevance of h o w movement toward self-erasure is directed (does the subject enter others, or do others enter the subject?). 23 " T h e most prostituted being" is God, "l'etre par excellence"—a formula we can turn around and present as: "l'etre par excellence" is the most prostituted being, that is, the ideality of all being (even God's?) is outside all particular being. In aspiring to a state of completeness, creatures (and perhaps even the Creator) reach toward the ultimate difference-fromthemselves that is self-effacement. Being manifests its " m e m o r y " of perfection by aspiring to nothingness. Less abstractly, however, Baudelaire is also acutely aware of the risks involved in having an " T with an insatiable appetite for the ' n o n - I . ' " In The Ego and the Id Freud writes: " T h e ego is first and foremost a bodily ego; it is not merely a surface entity, but is itself the projection of a surface." In commenting on this passage in The Freudian Body I wrote: "the ego is not only, in Freud's mental topography, that part of the mental apparatus most directly influenced by the body's contact with the world, it is also a mental projection of bodily surfaces . . . It fantasmatically repeats the body's contacts with the world in something, perhaps, like metaperceptual structures. T h e ego is not a surface; it is a psychic imitation of surfaces." 2 4 Baudelaire n o w suggests to me another way of putting this: the ego is the psychic agency in closest conformity to the body's place in the world. T h e ego does not simply reflect and m o n i t o r our

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relations with the external world; nor is its function limited to that of submitting mental processes to "reality testing." T h e ego also imitates a body's boundaries; it is the mental replication of the h u m a n organism's limited mastery of the world. T h e ego's representations of the world conform to, and thereby implicitly recognize, these limitations; the psychic specificity of its bounded nature consists in its representational control of stimuli, its capacity to protect itself against stimuli that cannot be placed within a representational structure. T h e Baudelairean flaneur-artist's self aims at nothing less than a transgression of the very boundaries of ego representation. And since, of necessity, the moi becomes the non-moi without ever really leaving itself, the self-prostitution inherent in the Baudelairean artist's contacts with the world is a potentially dangerous overloading of representational circuits. This overloading characterizes the child's absorption of the forms and colors of its environment, an absorption that Baudelaire explicitly connects to the artist's "inspiration." T h e child, w h o has weak nerves, risks being overwhelmed by its appetite for otherness. O n e of Baudelaire's painter-friends remembers the " m i x t u r e of amazement and delight (une stupeur melee de delices)" with which, as a child, he would contemplate his father's muscles, "the gradual transitions of pink and yellow in his skin, and the bluish network of his veins." " T h e picture of external life was already filling him with awe and taking hold of his brain. He was already being obsessed and possessed by f o r m . " Filled with awe, obsessed, possessed: the external sign of this is, in Baudelaire's striking phrase, "the fixed and animally ecstatic gaze of a child confronted with something new, whatever it be, whether a face or a landscape, gilding, colours, shimmering stuffs, or the magic of physical beauty assisted by the cosmetic art." If genius is only "childhood recovered at will—a childhood n o w equipped for self-expression with manhood's capacities and a power of analysis which enables it to order the mass of raw material which it has involuntarily accumulated," it is also true that the abundance of materials to be organized once the self opens up insatiably to the nonself can gravely congest a purely recipient self: "I am prepared to go even further and assert that inspiration has something in c o m m o n with a convulsion, and that every sublime thought is accompanied by a more or less violent nervous shock which has its repercussion in the very core of the brain" (8; 690-691). Inspiration—the precondition of artistic composition—is a state of painful jouissance. Baudelaire's description is strikingly similar to Freud's account, in the Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, of the genesis of sexuality: "It is easy to establish . . . that all comparatively intense affective processes, including even terrifying ones [spill over into] sexuality (auf Sexualerregung übergreifen)."25 What Freud analyzes in the Three Essays as the

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pleasurable-unpleasurable tension of sexual e x c i t e m e n t w o u l d o c c u r w h e n the b o d y ' s " n o r m a l " r a n g e of controllable (structurable, r e p r e s e n t able) s t i m u l a t i o n is exceeded, a n d w h e n t h e o r g a n i z a t i o n of t h e self is m o m e n t a r i l y d i s t u r b e d b y sensations o r affective processes s o m e h o w b e y o n d those c o m p a t i b l e w i t h psychic organization. 2 6 As w e have seen, Baudelaire h i m s e l f describes artistic inspiration in exactly t h e s a m e t e r m s he uses f o r his definition of love. T h e self possessed b y t h e external w o r l d , or p r o s t i t u t e d t o others, is shattered i n t o sexuality b y w h a t I have called its u n c o n d i t i o n a l availability to otherness. T h e artist and t h e child take in the w o r l d " w i t h a m i x t u r e of a m a z e m e n t a n d d e l i g h t , " and t h e perfect flaneur, like t h e lover, k n o w s t h e immense jouissance of sacrificing t h e moi to t h e non-moi. T h e Baudelairean aesthetic is inseparable f r o m Baudelairean erotics, a n d in b o t h jouissance is identical t o t h e m a s o c h i s t i c pleasure o f self-shattering. 2 7 C a n it be said that this erotically c h a r g e d inspirational state is a l s o — t o r e t u r n to m y discussion of Freud in C h a p t e r 2 — a revival of p r i m a r y narcissism? T h e inspired artist's convulsive state a n d t h e lover's selfsacrifice and s e l f - p r o s t i t u t i o n m a y of course s e e m i n c o m p a t i b l e w i t h narcissistic pleasure: far f r o m e n j o y i n g the pleasure o f self-love, t h e Baudelairean artist a n d lover have e m p t i e d themselves o f a self that m i g h t be loved, and their j o u i s s a n c e m a y be identical to the masochistic ecstasy o f a desired failure to resist b e i n g o v e r w h e l m e d b y otherness. T h e c o n tradiction may, h o w e v e r , only be a p p a r e n t . " L ' e t r c par excellence," w e r e m e m b e r , is also the m o s t p r o s t i t u t e d b e i n g — a s if the u l t i m a t e selfc o m p l e t i o n of particular beings w e r e equivalent to self-effacement. T h i s a p p a r e n t c o n t r a d i c t i o n m i g h t be t h o u g h t of as a h i g h l y s u b l i m a t e d r e f o r m u l a t i o n o f the s u g g e s t e d identity, in Freud's 1914 essay o n narcissism, of self-shattering and self-constitution. A c c o r d i n g t o t h e r e a d i n g of Freud p r o p o s e d earlier, p r i m a r y narcissism w o u l d be t h e experience of pleasurably shattered consciousness, w h i c h has b e c o m e aware o f itself as t h e object o f its desire. A n e g o is p e r h a p s created b y such d e s i r e — t h a t is, b y the desire to repeat t h e activity of an eroticized consciousness (instead of m e r e l y repeating such specific activities as s u c k i n g the m o t h e r ' s breast). In p r i m a r y narcissism, t h e infant m o v e s f r o m f r a g m e n t e d objects to totalities, a l t h o u g h t h e e g o c o n s t i t u t e d b y that m o v e is " l o v e d " for its aptitude to be shattered. A totalizing m o v e (which is also an erotic m o v e ) is t h e r e f o r e indistinguishable f r o m t h e desire to repeat the j o u i s s a n c e of s e l f - f r a g m e n t a t i o n . T h e e g o of p r i m a r y narcissism is t h e psychic a s s u m p t i o n nccessary f o r t h e repetition of the pleasure of a u t o e r o t i c i s m , a pleasure n o w p u r s u e d apart f r o m the objects that originally caused it. Baudelairean inspiration is a s u b l i m a t i o n of p r i m a r y narcissism ( w h i c h is itself an o r i g i n a r y s u b l i m a t i o n in that it is t h e first deflection of t h e sexual instinct f r o m an o b j e c t - f i x a t e d activity t o a n o t h e r , " h i g h e r " aim). In p r i -

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m a r y narcissism, h o w e v e r , the n e w aim r e m a i n s sexual; it is to repeat t h e reverberating, pleasurably painful tensions of sexuality. T h e w h o l l y sexual n a t u r e o f t h e o r i g i n a r y s u b l i m a t i o n s is t h e necessary g r o u n d f o r o u r v i e w of later s u b l i m a t i o n s as t h e investing of ego interests a n d activities w i t h u n r e p r e s s e d sexual energies. T h e n e w aims of these later s u b l i m a t i o n s arc nonetheless n o n s e x u a l . T h e pursuit o f these aims is n a r cissistically invested in that t h e r e is a libidinal object in s u b l i m a t i o n , b u t it is n o t h i n g o t h e r than the consciousness p u r s u i n g a n o n s e x u a l a i m . T h e s e Freudian reflections s h o u l d help us to f o r m u l a t e m o r e explicitly the c o n n e c t i o n b e t w e e n the Baudelairean n o t i o n s of artistic inspiration and o f t h e aspiration o f particular beings to c o m p l e t e d o r idealized b e i n g . "II faut t o u t c o m p l e t e r " is n o t a sexual aim. Baudelaire appears to locate the t e n d e n c y to c o m p l e t e , to idealize, o r to eternalize in b o t h the artist and his material. T h e eternal is in t h e relative; creation aspires to p e r f e c tion, the p h e n o m e n a l aspires t o t h e n o u m e n a l , and that aspiration is w h a t the Baudelairean artist represents in his depictions of m o d e r n life. In a r tistic inspiration, the p r o s t i t u t e d self's u n r e s e r v e d o p e n n e s s t o the n o n s e l f repeats the m o v e t o w a r d s e l f - c o m p l e t i o n (a m o v e , for Baudelaire, i n h e r ent in all created being) as t h e j o u i s s a n c e of b e i n g p e n e t r a t e d and p o s sessed b y otherness. C o n s t a n t i n G u y s does n o t m e r e l y " d i s e n g a g e " impassively t h e poetic f r o m t h e historical, t h e eternal f r o m the transitory; in actively collaborating w i t h the idealizing i m p u l s e latent in all t h e spectacles of m o d e r n life, he is also ecstatically " c o m p l e t i n g h i m s e l f " b y his self-shattering f u s i o n s w i t h those spectacles. The Baudelairean phenomenology of artistic inspiration is an ascetic erotics. T h e p r e c o m p o s i t i o n a l w o r k of G u y s " s e t t i n g u p h o u s e in the heart of the m u l t i t u d e " has t h e self-sacrificial a i m o f a b s o r b i n g , o f b e i n g shaken and c o n g e s t e d by, o t h erness, and if b e i n g can be perfected only b y b e i n g generalized, w h i c h f o r t h e lover a n d the artist m e a n s an obliteration o f the differences b e t w e e n self and nonself, then absolute narcissistic satisfaction m u s t c o i n cide w i t h an e x p l o s i o n of the self's b o u n d a r i e s . T h e implicit equivalence in F r e u d b e t w e e n p r i m a r y narcissism and t h e s i m u l t a n e o u s c o n s t i t u t i o n a n d shattering of e g o b o u n d a r i e s is, in w h o l l y different t e r m s , anticipated in Baudelaire as t h e jouissance of a self carried away ( b o t h ecstatically t r a n s p o r t e d and r e m o v e d f r o m itself) b y its o w n p r o s t i t u t i o n . W h a t is the place o f objects in that jouissance? We s h o u l d r e m e m b e r that as he travels t h r o u g h "le g r a n d desert d ' h o m m e s " l o o k i n g f o r s u b jects f o r his w o r k , C o n s t a n t i n G u y s " h a s an a i m loftier t h a n that of a m e r e flaneur, an a i m m o r e general, s o m e t h i n g o t h e r than the f u g i t i v e pleasure o f c i r c u m s t a n c e . " T h e non-moi by w h i c h he allows h i m s e l f to be penetrated is n o t exactly identical to the visible aspects of things; he m u s t d i s e n g a g e f r o m their presence the poetic and t h e eternal. Similarly, a p o r trait is "a m o d e l c o m p l i c a t e d b y an a r t i s t , " an "idealized m o d e l , " w h i c h

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is t o say t h e individual " r e c o n s t r u c t e d and restored b y b r u s h o r chisel to t h e dazzling t r u t h of its native h a r m o n y . " It is n o t accurate o b s e r v a t i o n of t h e real that is h i n d e r e d b y t o o m u c h particularizing and t o o m u c h generalizing, b u t rather, Baudelaire significantly says, " m e m o r y , " o r that inner r e p e r t o r y of f o r m s f r o m w h i c h , f o r e x a m p l e , an ancient artist sculpted t h e ideal A n t i n o u s . 2 8 In a sense, then, the artist's, the lover's, a n d G o d ' s u n c o n d i t i o n a l availability to otherness, their sacrificial p r o s t i t u t i o n of the self, is an o p e n n e s s to a non-moi that they already possess. T h e c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s t h r o u g h w h i c h objects c o m p l e t e t h e m s e l v e s b y c o n necting to related f o r m s are always represented c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s , c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s p e r c e i v e d — o r , p e r h a p s m o r e accurately, r e m e m b e r e d — b y a h u m a n subject. T h e o v e r l o a d i n g of t h e representational circuit that Baudelaire equates w i t h inspiration is a reactivation of images a n d n o t , as w e at first t h o u g h t , the invasion of consciousness b y external spectacles. T h e insatiable appetite of t h e self f o r the n o n s e l f does indeed d e s t r o y an e q u i l i b r i u m , b u t it is n o t exactly t h e e q u i l i b r i u m b e t w e e n t h e self a n d t h e w o r l d ; it is rather, in Freudian t e r m s , t h e balance b e t w e e n e g o s t r u c tures and the i n n u m e r a b l e ( d o r m a n t , suppressed, o r repressed) r e p r e sentations that are generally n o t allowed to break t h r o u g h t h e ego's b o u n d a r i e s . T h e external stimuli that gravely, and erotically, " s h a k e " us are those that reactivate—faster than they can be m a s t e r e d — m e m o r y traces of o t h e r stimuli. T h e n o n s e l f in w h i c h a particular self seeks ecstatically to be obliterated is the internally inscribed h i s t o r y of t h e self's relations w i t h t h e w o r l d . Very strangely, then, the p e n e t r a t i o n o f t h e artist by " t h e picture o f external life" is also a t u r n i n g away f r o m all such real scenes; it is a g o i n g o u t o f oneself, indeed an u n c o n t r o l l a b l e b r e a k d o w n of t h e v e r y b o u n d a r i e s o f s e l f h o o d , w h i c h is also an e x c e p t i o n a l self-expansion, a kind o f celebration o f the self-as-world, in s h o r t a n a r cissistic jouissance. 2 9 *

*

Φ

T h e individual does, h o w e v e r , get lost in that w h i c h c o m p l e t e s h i m , even if, as in the case of t h e p o e t - l o v e r , it is his o w n m e m o r y . M e m o r y , after all, is filled w i t h i m a g e s o f the nonself; a n d if w e are right t o say that poets and lovers t u r n away f r o m the w o r l d o f objects in their j o u i s s a n c e , it is also true that they rediscover the n o n s e l f within t h e self. It is in t h e m selves that their insatiable appetite f o r otherness is satisfied; in art a n d love, the self is p e n e t r a t e d b y t h e alien n a t u r e of its o w n contents, b y a w o r l d it n o w r e m e m b e r s having c o n t a i n e d . W h a t F r e u d called t h e e g o can p e r h a p s be t h o u g h t of as t h e individuating containment of the w o r l d . It i s — t o m o v e to a n o t h e r sense o f " c o n t a i n " — t h e result o f a c o n t a i n i n g strategy, t h e creation of inner b o u n d a r i e s , of an i n n e r f o r m , w h i c h r e duces all that w e contain to t h e psychologically shaped and distinctive

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space o f a particular subjectivity. It is that s u b j e c t i v i t y — o r , in o r d i n a r y usage, that s e l f — w h i c h is m e n a c e d b y t h e narcissistic self-expansions o f love and o f art. To p u t this in m o r e specifically Baudelairean t e r m s , w e c o u l d say that individuation is threatened by correspondences. T h e n o t i o n o f c o r r e s p o n dences is a t h e o r y o f identity: it implies that identities are always relational. C e r t a i n p e r f u m e s are inadequately d e f i n e d — i m p r i s o n e d , u n j u s t l y c o n t a i n e d — b y their o w n o d o r ; they have, they are, the cool freshness o f a child's skin a n d the greenness of prairies. Each sense m u s t g o o u t o f i t s e l f — i n a m o v e o f synaesthetic d e s i r e — i n o r d e r to be itself. S w e d e n b o r g , Baudelaire w r i t e s in an essay o n Victor H u g o , " h a d already t a u g h t us that the sky is a very tall man; that e v e r y t h i n g , f o r m , m o v e m e n t , n u m bers, colors, p e r f u m e s , in the spiritual w o r l d as in the n a t u r a l w o r l d , is significant, reciprocal, converse, corresponding." " E v e r y t h i n g is h i e r o g l y p h i c " ; the p o e t is "a translator, a d e c i p h e r e r " w h o d r a w s his i m a g e s f r o m " t h e inexhaustible resources of universal analogy."30 T h e r e are m o m e n t s — s u c h as the first stanza o f " C o r r e s p o n d a n c e s " — w h e n B a u d e laire appears to conceive o f c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s in vertical or, m o r e exactly, s y m b o l i c t e r m s . All creation w o u l d b e an i m m e n s e b o o k in w h i c h G o d ' s intentions can be read. In such a s y s t e m o f c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s , m o b i l i t y is p r i m a r i l y transcendental. Material objects relate symbolically t o spiritual realities; they signify o t h e r o r d e r s o f being. B u t in m a n y of his theoretical s t a t e m e n t s , and certainly in m o s t of his poetic practice, Baudelaire s u g gests s o m e t h i n g quite different: t h e h o r i z o n t a l c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s of a finite universe in w h i c h all objects are c o n t i n u o u s l y m o v i n g t o w a r d and away f r o m o n e a n o t h e r . T h e y d o n o t s i m p l y s i g n i f y realities that transcend t h e m ; rather, they never cease m a n i f e s t i n g different t y p e s o f affinities. P h e n o m e n a d o n o t " m e a n " t h e o t h e r p h e n o m e n a w i t h w h i c h they e n t e r into relation; it is as if each t e r m of an analogy, f o r e x a m p l e , p o s i t i o n e d itself m o r e satisfactorily in the u n i v e r s e — c o m p l e t e d i t s e l f — b y thus c o n t r i b u t i n g t o the universe's always shifting designs. " U n i v e r s a l a n a l o g y " p e r h a p s implies a finite u n i v e r s e — o r , at t h e v e r y least, finitude as the accepted limit f o r o u r s e n s e - m a k i n g i m a g i n a t i o n . O n c e w e " t h i n k " the infinite, w e posit t h e possibility o f t e r m s that m a y have n o a n a l o g y w h a t s o e v e r t o o u r k n o w n t e r m s . S y m b o l i s m is a w a y o f c o n s t i t u t i n g a relation w i t h the infinite, a relation that d e p e n d s , h o w ever, o n the n o t i o n of material reality as the creation o f a spiritual reality at once i n c o m m e n s u r a b l e w i t h its o w n creation and yet partially revealed w i t h i n it. T h e finite s y m b o l contains the m n e m o n i c trace of its infinite origin. T h e Baudelairean n o t i o n o f c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s can be t h o u g h t of as a r e s p o n s e to t h e loss o f vertical s y m b o l i s m , of a s u p e r n a t u r a l d i m e n s i o n in s e n s e - m a k i n g projects (to w h i c h Baudelaire also tenaciously clings). If that loss deprives t h e w o r l d as w e k n o w it of transcendental d i m e n s i o n s ,

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it also sets phenomena free for relations now wholly unconstrained by any permanent designs. There is no divine plan to which all relations must ultimately conform; design is always provisional and mobile. Thus loss is an immense analogical gain; the most remote objects and phenomena may eventually be experienced as having at least momentary affinities. Most dramatically, this involves both an enrichment and a breakdown of the very notion of the human. Benjamin is, I think, referring to this breakdown when he writes that Baudelaire "always avoided revealing himself to the reader." He then cites "the most competent observers" of what he sees as a strategically evasive gesture on Baudelaire's part. Gide noticed a very calculated disharmony between the image and the object. Riviere has emphasized how Baudelaire proceeds from the remote word, how he reaches it to tread softly as he cautiously brings it closer to the object. Lemaitre speaks of forms which are constituted so as to check an eruption of passion, and Laforgue emphasizes Baudelaire's similes which, as it were, give the lie to the lyrical person and get into the text as disturbing intruders. Laforgue quotes "The night thickened like a partition" ("La nuit s'epaississait ainsi qu'une cloison"), and adds: "A wealth of other examples could be found."

In a note Benjamin gives the following good examples of these "disturbing" intruders: Nous volons au passage un plaisir clandestin Que nous pressons bien fort comme une vieille orange. (We hastily steal a clandestine pleasure Which we squeeze very hard like an old orange.) Ta gorge triomphante est une belle armoire. (Your triumphant bosom is a fine wardrobe.) Comme un sanglot coupe par un sang ecumeux Le chant du coq au loin dechirait l'air brumeux. (The distant cock-crow rent the hazy air like a sob stifled by frothy blood.) La tete, avec l'amas de sa criniere sombre Et de ses bijoux precieux, Sur la table de nuit, comme une renoncule, Repose. (The head with the mass of its dark mane and its precious jewels rests on the night table like a ranunculus.)

Baudelaire "is on the lookout for banal incidents in order to approximate them to poetic events," a "linguistic gesture" that Benjamin finds "truly significant only in the allegorist": Baudelaire "took up a profusion of

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allegories and altered their nature f u n d a m e n t a l l y by virtue of the linguistic e n v i r o n m e n t in w h i c h he placed t h e m . " T h i s gave to his w r i t i n g a quality of " b r u s q u e coincidence" that, B e n j a m i n notes, Claudel f o r m u lated as the combination of " t h e style of Racine w i t h the style of a j o u r nalist of the Second E m p i r e . " Baudelaire " r e c o n n o i t r e d , besieged, and o c c u p i e d " subjects by this rhetorical putsch in w h i c h allegory is j u x t a posed w i t h " t h e m o s t banal w o r d . " 3 1 F r o m o u r perspective, it is perhaps the psychological simplifications and clarifications of allegory itself that are " b e s i e g e d " in this putsch. T h e subject, n o longer constrained b y a t h e o r y of h u m a n nature ultimately sanctioned by a Christian m e t a p h y s ics, is set loose in its n e w l y discovered finite universe and, perhaps m o s t startlingly, discovers its possible affinities w i t h the inanimate. This is the lesson of the "Spleen" p o e m beginning J'ai plus de souvenirs que si j'avais mille ans (in w h i c h B e n j a m i n mainly sees Baudelaire's " e m p a t h y w i t h inorganic t h i n g s , " w i t h " m a t t e r that has been eliminated f r o m the circulation process"), 3 2 w h i c h includes the following bizarre identifications: the poet is " u n gros meuble ä tiroirs e n c o m b r e de b i lans, / D e vers, de billets d o u x , de proces, de r o m a n c e s , " as well as " u n cimetiere abhorre de la l u n e " and " u n vieux b o u d o i r plein dc roses fan e e s . " It is n o t merely f r o m e c o n o m i c processes of circulation that the splenetic poet has been r e m o v e d but, m o r e radically, f r o m the circuit of animate creatures: —Desormais tu n'es plus, δ matiere vivante! Qu'un granit entoure d'une vague epouvante, Assoupi dans le fond d'un Saharah brumeux; Un vieux sphinx ignore du monde insoucieux, Oublie sur la carte, et dont l'humeur farouche Ne chante qu'aux rayons du soleil qui se couche. Hereafter, mortal clay, you are no more than a rock encircled by a nameless dread, [dozing deep within the foggy Sahara], —an ancient sphinx omitted from the map, forgotten by the world, and whose fierce moods sing only to the rays of setting suns.33

J'ai plus de souvenirs que si j'avais mille ans expresses a m o c k h o r r o r at these n e w identificatory possibilities. A n d there is g o o d reason for the poet's ambiguity. First there is n o t only the n e w richncss of being created by the mobility of horizontal correspondences; there is also s o m e t h i n g like a n e w guarantee of order in this ceaselessly mobile w o r l d . In the finite universe of horizontal correspondences, there are n o unrelated terms. T h e repertory of f o r m s in this universe is i m m e n s e b u t limited; finitude is at least the p r o m i s e of an inescapable order, the order of total

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relationality. 3 4 If, h o w e v e r , w e can feel certain that, in a n d w i t h time, n o t h i n g will escape this o r d e r , the m o b i l e relations of a finite u n i v e r s e can never be totalized. If relations are c o n t i n u o u s l y b e i n g r e c o m p o s e d because they are c o n t i n u o u s l y being b r o k e n , they never really a d d u p to a n y t h i n g . N o t only d o e s this eliminate the possibility of a n y d e e p structural o r d e r stabilizing particular relational m o d e s ; it also m e a n s that identity can never be f o r m u l a t e d as a n y t h i n g m o r e than a h i s t o r y o f s u c cessive relational m o v e s . T h e individual is a passing o r c o n t i n g e n t event, an event in w h i c h each t e r m ' s s e l f - c o m p l e t i o n — i t s identification w i t h a n o t h e r t e r m — r u i n s the possibility of an i n d i v i d u a t i n g identification. T h e r e are signs in Baudelaire of an a t t e m p t to stop, o r t o deny, all this m o v e m e n t . T h u s t h e n i g h t m a r e of J'ai plus de souvenirs que sij'avais mille ans m a y be a p r e l i m i n a r y strategic m o v e . T h e p o e m ' s relational t e r m s are i m m o b i l i z e d b u t n o t yet eliminated. It is as if the analogical circuits h a d b r o k e n d o w n , and far f r o m e n j o y i n g t h e lightness of b e i n g i n d u c e d b y the bercements o f desire, the p o e t is m e r e l y b u r d e n e d b y inert alien being. A n d there w o u l d appear to be n o i n d i v i d u a t i n g distance at all f r o m a series of images that fully constitutes t h e subject. T h e poet is n o t like a piece o f f u r n i t u r e o r a cemetery, he is each of t h o s e objects; instead o f t h e m e t a p h o r i c a l c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s of "La C h e v e l u r e , " " L ' I n v i t a t i o n au v o y a g e , " and " L e Beau N a v i r e , " w e have a succession of total identifications. We are n o t m o v i n g a m o n g related representations (with each t e r m less i m p o r t a n t than t h e m o v e m e n t it initiates); rather, in the Spleen p o e m w e have a succession o f identities that s i m p l y pile u p . N o w the p o e t is o n e thing, n o w a n o t h e r ; the first identification hasn't been lost a n d hasn't propelled h i m to t h e s e c o n d — i t has m e r e l y been deposited. W h a t I have been describing as the intrinsic insatiability of the moi f o r t h e non-moi has n o w taken the f o r m o f subjectivity as a j u n k y a r d or, as o n e of t h e poet's o w n identifications indicates, as the c e m e t e r y w h e r e t h e w o r l d c o m e s to die. In w h a t sense are the g r i m identifications of the splenetic p o e t a strategic m o v e ? W h a t are t h e p r o f i t s of i m m o b i l i t y ? J'ai plus de souvenirs que sij'avais mille ans is only o n e m o m e n t in a general p a t t e r n of resistance in Baudelaire's p e r c e p t i o n of subjectivity as m o b i l e c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s . To have h a d that p e r c e p t i o n m e a n s t o have experienced a certain indistinctness in the b o u n d a r i e s b e t w e e n external reality and the internal w o r l d of the subject. It implies the r e c o g n i t i o n that the v e r y l a n g u a g e o f " i n s i d e " and " o u t s i d e " obscures t h e n a t u r e of o u r presence in t h e w o r l d . For o n the o n e h a n d every h u m a n subject is only outside in t h e sense that he o r she is n o t h i n g b u t a certain v o l u m e in t h e spaces of t h e real; a n d o n t h e other, the w o r l d in w h i c h w e are lost is i m p r i s o n e d w i t h i n those r e p r e sentations b y w h i c h w e recognize ourselves. T h e Baudelairean n o t i o n o f p r o s t i t u t i o n — a n d the related s u g g e s t i o n s a b o u t a natural t e n d e n c y t o -

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ward self-completion and ideality in the particular and the contingent—acknowledge the irreducible ambiguity of this presence and this relation. But Baudelaire is also interested in salvaging a m o r e traditional view of the distinction between subjects and objects, a distinction that gives a kind of plausibility to the idea of individuality—even t h o u g h the wholly distinct, wholly bounded individual self may be nothing m o r e than an inert collection of transposed and decathected objects. Thus, for example, the Journaux intimes both advance and repudiate the idea of love and art as prostitution. Baudelaire's misogyny is founded on that repudiation, on relegating to w o m a n the "abominable" need to give herself over to her body, to her desires, to others; she is, in short—and the Christian bias of the j u d g m e n t is of course clear—merely natural. "To screw is to aspire to enter into another person, and the artist never goes outside himself." If the artist prostitutes himself, it is, somewhat mysteriously, "in a particular way," for "glory is to remain one (la gloire e'est rester un)," and "the man of genius wants to be one, thus solitary." " W o m a n , " Baudelaire writes in Mon Coeur mis a nu, "is the o p posite of the dandy," 3 5 but in "Le Peintre de la vie m o d e r n e " the dandy is the opposite of the artist, which of course brings abominably natural w o m a n very close to the artist. " T h e dandy aspires to insensitivity, and it is in this that Monsieur G., dominated as he is by an insatiable passion—for seeing and feeling—parts company decisively with d a n d y i s m " (9; 691). If the artist is "an Τ with an insatiable appetite for the ' n o n - I , ' " the dandy is ruled by "the burning need to create for oneself a personal originality, bounded only by the limits of the proprieties. [Dandyism] is a kind of cult of the self" (27; 710). In order to be "sublime without interruption," the dandy " m u s t live and sleep in front of a m i r r o r . " 3 6 Dandyism is the bizarre modern f o r m of individualism. N o longer sanctioned by the social authority of an aristocracy, the individual— this, at any rate, appears to be the experience of the Baudelairean lover and artist—discovers himself to be a purely psychological m y t h . T h e dandy brilliantly refuses to defend that m y t h . He makes no claims w h a t soever for his o w n interiority, but he forces others to infer, m o r e exactly to create, his uniqueness. And they can't help inferring it because there is no sign of it. Dandyism is above all "the joy of astonishing others and the proud satisfaction of never being astonished." T h e dandy's beauty "consists above all in an air of coldness which comes f r o m an unshakable determination not to be moved; you might call it a latent fire which hints at itself, and which could, but chooses not to burst into flame" (28-29; 710, 712). There is, in short, nothing to be seen in the dandy except the determination not to let anything be seen. In a sense, no one is more prostituted to others than the dandy; his aristocratic individuality depends entirely on h o w others will interpret his heroically

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s c r u p u l o u s erasure of any signs w h a t s o e v e r of individuality, an erasure that m a y d e p e n d literally o n t h e truly heroic, truly i m p o s s i b l e feat o f m o n i t o r i n g t h e m o v e m e n t s of one's sleeping b o d y in a m i r r o r . If in their self-prostitution t h e lover a n d the artist find themselves dispersed in the images of o t h e r n e s s w i t h i n t h e m , the d a n d y — m o r e radically d e p e n d e n t o n o t h e r s — e x i s t s only in the astonished fabulations of t h o s e h e seduces into i n v e n t i n g h i m . M o r e interesting than t h e p h e n o m e n o n of the dandy, h o w e v e r , is t h e attention Baudelaire gives to it. T h e description of d a n d y i s m is o u t o f place in " L e Peintre de la vie m o d e r n e . " It is true that t h e d a n d y is o n e of C o n s t a n t i n Guys's pictorial subjects, b u t Baudelaire's digressive t r i b u t e to the d a n d y can only operate as a k i n d of theoretical reserve, p e r h a p s even of theoretical n e g a t i o n in the c o n t e x t of his discussion of G u y s ' s talent and o f artistic inspiration in general. T h e d a n d y checks that discussion; he o p p o s e s to the convulsed, p e n e t r a t e d aesthetic consciousness an i m a g e of an ideally closed consciousness, u n f a t h o m a b l y different f r o m an external w o r l d b y w h i c h it never allows itself t o be possessed. S i m i larly, J'ai plus de souvenirs que sij'avais mille ans o p p o s e s its affectlcss i m m o b i l i t y to t h e i n d e t e r m i n a t e desiring selves of "La C h c v e l u r e , " " L ' I n v i t a t i o n au v o y a g e , " and "Le P a r f ü m " and " L e C a d r e " ( p o e m s 2 a n d 3 of " U n F a n t ö m e " ) . T h e i m a g e of t h e d a n d y suggests t h e fantasized gain in this killing of affect: t h e gain o f an inviolable, u n m o v e d , u n i q u e self. B u t t h e Spleen p o e m m a y u n i n t e n t i o n a l l y reveal the interiority o f d a n d y i s m , the u n e x p e c t e d b u t w h o l l y logical equivalence b e t w e e n t h e u n m o v e d a n d b o u n d e d self, a n d a subjectivity oppressively b u r d e n e d w i t h all that alien debris of b e i n g w i t h w h i c h it originally designed itself. J'ai plus de souvenirs que sij'avais mille ans s h o u l d p e r h a p s b e t h o u g h t of as t h e dandy's secret soliloquy. *

*

*

Far f r o m b e i n g an i n d i v i d u a t i n g m o v e , the killing o f affect p r o d u c e s a reified subject, an " I " exactly identical t o the arrested a n d congealed o t h erness that gives it its " c h a r a c t e r . " A n d yet i n d i v i d u a t i o n c a n n o t b e dismissed as a m e r e ideological illusion. O u r reading o f Beudelaire, at a n y rate, suggests that i n d i v i d u a t i o n is a p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l certainty, t h o u g h o n e that cannot be represented. T h e subject's representations are always representations o f otherness. E v e n m o r e : representation itself m a y always be an alienating activity. T h e p o e t can "speak h i m s e l f " o n l y b y r e - p r c s e n t i n g the w o r l d ; b u t , as the h y p h e n is m e a n t t o indicate here, his i m a g e s arc never presentations of the w o r l d but are m n e m o n i c p e r s p e c tives on, o r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s of, t h e w o r l d . Is there a m o d e of subjectivity b e h i n d or b e f o r e these alienated representations, s o m e i m m e d i a t e testim o n y to t h e subject's uniqueness?

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There is, first of all, the " I " responsible for the artist's craft, the " I " without which inspiration would never become composition. Constantin Guys, it will be recalled, enters the crowd as if he were plunging into "an immense reservoir of electrical energy." Inspiration always "has something in c o m m o n with a convulsion, and . . . every sublime thought is accompanied by a more or less violent nervous shock which has its repercussion in the very core of the brain." But if this self-shattering is intrinsic to artistic perceptions, it may in fact be inimical to artistic c o m position. In the poem "Les Sept Vicillards," the poet, unlike the passionate Guys, starts out as the detached spectator of a scene of replicated identity. O n a Parisian street he sees seven versions of the same miserably poor and wicked-looking old man. This poem f r o m Les Tableaux parisiens can be thought of as allegorizing the indeterminacy of the b o u n d a ries between subjects and objects as a procession of exactly identical individuals, each one of w h o m is both subject and object for all the others. But the poet is shaken out of himself as a result of this spectacle; the final stanzas phenomenologically replay—from the perspective of the poet's shattered consciousness—the allegorical scene. His reason is like a ship crazily tossed about on a sea that has no shore, no boundaries. This of course means that "Les Sept Vicillards" dramatizes the loss of the poet's ability to write a fiction such as "Les Sept Vicillards." Having returned home, the poet can no longer composc himself, can no longer compose. Guys's compositions may be equally threatened by the inspiration that precedes them, and Baudelaire describes the painter's return h o m e as an embattled repetition of his ecstatically convulsed fusion with the crowd. While others sleep, Guys is bending over his table, darting on to a sheet of paper the same glance that a m o m e n t ago he was directing towards external things, skirmishing w i t h his pencil, his pen, his brush, splashing his glass of water u p to the ceiling, wiping his pen on his shirt, in a ferment of violent activity, as t h o u g h afraid that the image might escape him, cantankerous though alone, elbowing himself on. (12; 693)

T h e "lover of universal life" has become a duelist. Guys must fight with the paper he draws on if composition is not to be an exact repetition of inspiration. It is of course interesting that the former is nonetheless in a mimetic relation to the latter: G u y looks at his paper as he had looked at the crowd. All the earlier interpenetrations of the moi and non-moi are repeated: Guy is "cantankerous though alone, elbowing himself o n , " and if, as Baudelaire continues, "the external world is reborn upon his paper," it is both as it was in itself and yet different f r o m itself: "natural and more than natural, beautiful and m o r e than beautiful, strange and endowed with an impulsive life like the soul of its creator." But n o w

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Guys's congested, shaken consciousness resists; m o r e exactly, f r o m b e i n g passively c o n v u l s e d it has b e c o m e n e r v o u s l y active. G u y s is n o t d r a w i n g f r o m m e m o r y ; to d r a w is to reenact t h e e n c o u n t e r w i t h w h a t is to be d r a w n . W h a t is represented in the d r a w i n g is n o t scenes f r o m city life, b u t rather t h e d r a m a of the artist's a n d the city's i n t e r p e n e t r a t i o n s . In a sense, then, to d r a w is t o be inspired again; indeed, it is t h e state of inspiration that is d r a w n . T h e materials o f G u y s ' a r t — h i s pen, his b r u s h , his p a p e r — d o n o t m e r e l y t r a n s m i t and receive images; t h e i m a g e s t h e m selves are t h e p r o d u c t o f his s t r u g g l e w i t h those materials. B u t n o w t h e e n c o u n t e r is, precisely, a struggle, a s t r u g g l e that m u s t e n d in an o r d e r i n g of images: " A l l the r a w materials w i t h w h i c h t h e m e m o r y has l o a d e d itself are p u t in order, r a n g e d and h a r m o n i z e d , a n d u n d e r g o that f o r c e d idealization w h i c h is t h e result of a childlike p e r c e p t i v e n e s s — t h a t is t o say, a perceptiveness acute and magical b y reason of its i n n o c e n c e ! " (12; 693-694). In this inaccurate replication of inspiration that is c o m p o s i t i o n , n o t h ing has been lost. T h e "childlike perceptiveness" resulting in a " f o r c e d idealization" is, as w e have already been told, a p e r c e p t i o n of t h e moi's c o r r e s p o n d e n c e and f u s i o n w i t h the non-moi. B u t w i t h i n such mobilities and indeterminacies o f being, lines have n o w been d r a w n . T h e y are n o t lines separating the subject f r o m the object; rather, w i t h i n t h o s e i m a g e s w h e r e G u y s h i m s e l f never appears as a figure, there are differences, o r ders, intervals, b o u n d a r i e s that are t h e presence of the moi in t h e non-moi. T h e duelist's j a b s i m p o s e design o n t h e f u s i o n of being, and in a certain sense they reinstate individuality in t h e real. B u t the individuality o f Guys's a r t — p e r h a p s I'individuel of all a r t — i s distinct f r o m subjectivity; it is p r o d u c e d b y the appearance of appearances, by an arresting o f c o r r e spondences that results in visible f o r m s . C o r r e s p o n d e n c e s , because they are thus i m m o b i l i z e d and inevitably violated in art, are visible o n l y in art. A r t represents the relationality that u n d o e s t h e privileges a n d r e m e dies the lost solitariness of psychological individuality, and it offers t o o u r perception and u n d e r s t a n d i n g an individuality indifferent t o t h e h u m a n subject. If those traced fusions p r o d u c e t h e effect of beauty, then b e a u t y is always sterile, f o r it is an attribute of metaphysical rather than o f p h y s i cal being. For Baudelaire, the miracle of m a k e u p is that it operates a transfer o f ontological register. E y e shadow, he w r i t e s in the section o n " L ' E l o g e d u m a q u i l l a g e " in " L e Peintre de la vie m o d e r n e , " b y g i v i n g t o a w o m a n ' s eye "a m o r e decisive appearance o f a w i n d o w o p e n u p o n t h e i n f i n i t e , " r e m o v e s w o m a n f r o m her a b o m i n a b l e natural f u n c t i o n o f p r o creation (34; 717). H e r individuality is n o longer b o u n d e d o r f r a m e d b y the b i o l o g y of a particular b o d y ; she is n o w at once lost in and enriched b y an appearance s u g g e s t i n g that it can be " c o m p l e t e d " o r t r u l y i d e n t i -

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fied o n l y b e y o n d itself. B a u d e l a i r e ' s first title f o r Les Fleurs du mal— a title h e h e l d o n t o f r o m 1845 t o 1 8 4 7 — w a s Les Lesbiennes. H e w a s p e r h a p s less i n t e r e s t e d in the m o r a l m e l o d r a m a o f f e m m e s damnees t h a n in l e s b i a n i s m as a s e x u a l a l l e g o r y o f o n t o l o g i c a l r e p l i c a t i o n s . O n t h e island o f L e s b o s , e v e r y t h i n g w a s d o u b l e d : n o s i g h ever r e m a i n e d w i t h o u t an e c h o ( " j a m a i s u n s o u p i r ne resta sans e c h o " ) , a n d : Lesbos, tcrre des nuits chaudes et langoureuses, Q u i font qu'ä leurs miroirs, sterile volupte! Les filles aux yeux creux, de leurs corps amoureuses, Caressent les fruits mürs de leur nubilite. Lesbos, where on suffocating nights before their mirrors, girls with hollow eyes caress their ripened limbs in sterile j o y and taste the fruit of their nubility. 37 B u t t h a t " s t e r i l e j o y " is t h e p r e c o n d i t i o n o f a p r o f u n d i t y o f b e i n g . S a p h i c n a r c i s s i s m is o n l y s e c o n d a r i l y a m o r a l o r a p s y c h o l o g i c a l p h e n o m e n o n ; if B a u d e l a i r e loves these " p o o r s i s t e r s , " as h e w r i t e s in t h e " F e m m e s d a m n e e s " p o e m b e g i n n i n g Comme un betail pensif sur le sable couchees, as m u c h as h e pities t h e m , it is b e c a u s e t h e y are c o n t e m p t u o u s o f t h e real: Ο vierges, 6 demons, 6 monstres, ö martyres, De la realite grands esprits contempteurs, Chcrcheuses d'infini . . . Virgins, demons, monsters, martyrs, all great spirits scornful of reality, saints and satyrs in search of the infinite . . .

38

In d e s i r i n g t h e m s e l v e s o u t s i d e t h e m s e l v e s , lesbians t r a n s f o r m sex f r o m a b i o l o g i c a l n e e d t o a m e t a p h y s i c a l p u r s u i t . T h e i r p r e s u m e d n a r c i s s i s m , far f r o m b e i n g a d e f e c t in their desire, is w h a t frees their love f r o m r e p r o d u c t i v e s e r v i t u d e , f r o m t h a t m u l t i p l i c a t i o n o f s u b j e c t s t h a t w e falsely i n t e r p r e t as t h e m u l t i p l i c a t i o n o f I'individuel. L e s b i a n i s m n a t u r a l i z e s t h e m e t a p h y s i c a l , a n d its p a t h o s f o r B a u d e l a i r e m a y lie in its i n e s c a p a b l y sacrificial destiny. U n a b l e t o produce a n y t h i n g e x c e p t an a n a m o l o u s e m pirical r e n d e r i n g o f an i n d e t e r m i n a c y o f b e i n g , B a u d e l a i r e ' s lesbians e x p e r i e n c e their sterility as a c u r s e r a t h e r t h a n as t h e s i g n o f u n i q u e p r i v i l e g e : t h a t o f b e i n g n o n r e p r o d u c i b l e s u b j e c t s , s u b j e c t s in s e a r c h o f a " c o r r e s p o n d i n g " s a m e n e s s - i n - d i f f e r e n c e t h a t a l o n e can c o m p l e t e t h e m . So t o o B a u d e l a i r e n e v e r sees his r e l a t i o n t o his o w n w o r k as a p a t e r n a l o n e . We can, h o w e v e r , easily i m a g i n e an a e s t h e t i c m o d e l e d o n p a t e r n ity, a n d Balzac i m m e d i a t e l y c o m e s t o m i n d as a w r i t e r w h o s e w o r k is g u i d e d b y s u c h an aesthetic. T h e s t r u c t u r e o f Balzac's n o v e l s is f u n d a m e n t a l l y g e n e r a t i v e : t h e classical Balzacian e x p o s i t i o n t e e m s w i t h t h e

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action and t h e charactcrs that f o l l o w it, w h o m w e can easily r e c o g n i z e as its p r o g e n y . T h e generative n a t u r e o f this s t r u c t u r e is repeated in the Balzacian narrator's relation to his narrative: all t h e players in La Comedie humaine have a f a m i l y resemblance, a n d Balzac's characteristically controlling narrative v o i c c — h i s omniscience, j u d g m e n t s , d i g r e s s i o n s — m a k e s u n m i s t a k a b l y clear w h o has sired t h e entire family, f r o m w h a t all-seeing, fertile, and law g i v i n g father e v e r y o n e and e v e r y t h i n g derives. N o t h i n g is m o r e different f r o m Baudelaire's dispersion in his w o r k , t h e u n f a i t h f u l self-repetitions in w h i c h w e recognize b o t h c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s to and inconsistencies w i t h o t h e r m o m e n t s in t h e text. Baudelaire creatively repeats the m o b i l i t y that is t h e subject of so m u c h of his w r i t i n g b y t r y i n g h i m s e l f o u t differently t h r o u g h o u t his w o r k . T h e r e is t h e m o bility of the erotic p o e m s of Les Fleurs du mal, as well as the p r o c e s s i o n of identities in J'ai plus de souvenirs que si j'avais mille arts a n d "Les Sept Vieillards," a n d the puzzling, even a n g u i s h i n g shifts o f affect b e t w e e n the n a r r a t o r and the f i g u r e he describes in picces f r o m Le Spleen de Paris. M o r e generally, several of t h e p r o s e p o e m s can be t a k e n as allegorical representations of the n o t i o n of correspondences, as their i m m o b i l i z a t i o n in u n c a n n y — a l t h o u g h in fact, n o t q u i t e e x a c t — s y m m e t r i e s of b e i n g . Baudelaire exercises n o paternal a u t h o r i t y over his w o r k ; h e is, w e m i g h t say, n o t even responsible for his o w n presence in his w o r k . I b e g a n this discussion of Baudelaire b y d r a w i n g attention to a preciosity o f r h e t o r i c that places us at a certain distance f r o m t h e ideas a b o u t t h e relation b e t w e e n t h e eternal and the t r a n s i t o r y in " L e Peintre de la vie m o d e r n e . " T h e phrases i n t r o d u c i n g these ideas create a n e r v o u s , reserved persona. We can n o w better u n d e r s t a n d a reserve that in n o w a y detracts f r o m the seriousness of the ideas b u t does tend to d e p r i v e t h e m of an u n a m b i g u o u s authorial s u p p o r t , of authorial authority. T h e tonal distance of this p a s s a g e — l i k e so m a n y o t h e r s — m i g h t a l m o s t lead us t o s u s pect that Baudelaire is elegantly s u m m a r i z i n g s o m e o n e else's ideas, except that it is precisely this i m p r e s s i o n that m a k e s o f Baudelaire's criticism art. His presence in " L e Peintre de la vie m o d e r n e " is as m u c h a question of relational mobilities as it is in "La C h e v e l u r e " — e x c e p t that in the essay the relations are a m o n g concepts and b e t w e e n a n a r r a t i v e voice and t h o s e concepts, a n d in the p o e m they are a m o n g desiring f a n tasies as well as b e t w e e n t h e poet's teasing, willful recitation o f t h o s e fantasies and an a p p a r e n t l y c o m p l i a n t lover. In b o t h c a s e s — a n d this m a y be even m o r e striking in t h e critical e s s a y s — t h e aesthetic effect d e p e n d s on an absence, the absence o f a subject as the a u t h o r i t a t i v e s o u r c e o r origin of fantasies and ideas. Yet an individual is p e r h a p s discernible in this v e r y absence o f an authoritative subject. A n d n o w I m e a n I'individu and n o t l'individuel. I a m n o longer speaking of the arresting of c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s that results

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in the visible forms, the traced fusions, of art, but rather of the individuality of the psychological subject. Within a pattern of resistance in Baudelaire to his perception of subjectivity as mobile correspondences, the dandy would be his most sophisticated fantasy of inviolable selfhood, a fantasy that includes the killing of affect and the total dependence of the presumably autonomous dandy on the creative admiration of others. T h e individual subject authenticates itself much more convincingly in the Baudelairean narrator's ironic voice. And that voice is of course heard most frequently in the prose poems, where the narrator's tonal distance f r o m the anecdotes he relates is much m o r e p r o n o u n c e d — m u c h m o r e intentionally an important part of the interest of those anecdotes—than the roughly similar distance of the narrative voice in "Le Peintre de la vie m o d e r n e . " T h e latter is a function of relational mobilities—can it be said that the concepts of this essay really belong to the dismissively dilletantish voice that presents t h e m ? — b u t this ironic distancing can also be heard as a personal intrusion. It is, paradoxically, only in this disappearing act that the narrator, as an individual subject, utters himself. In writing Le Spleen de Paris, Baudelaire was fully conscious of the importance of cultivating that voice. "Which of us," he w r o t e in the dedicatory note to Arsene Houssaye, "has not, on days w h e n he felt most ambitious, dreamt of the miracle of a poetic prose, one that would be musical without r h y t h m and without rhyme, supple and abrupt enough to adapt itself to the lyrical movements of the soul, the rise and fall of reverie, and the sudden starts of conscience?" "Lyrical movements of the soul" and "the rise and fall of reverie" are not the best terms to describe the allegories of brutality and perversion in Le Spleen de Paris, but it is still significant that Baudelaire himself locates the principal interest of his prose poems not in their subject—"the frequenting of e n o r m o u s cities" merely gave birth to this "obsessive ideal"—but in their d e m o n stration of how the poet's existential truth might be substituted for the externally imposed conventions of r h y t h m and rhyme. 3 9 T h e pedagogical dryness of Baudelairean allegory is, as it were, relieved by the musical prose that is allegory's medium. To call that prose self-conscious would not appear to be saying much for it were it not for the fact that the allegorical message so frequently problematizes the very possibility of self-consciousness. Some of Baudelaire's most impressive achievements in Le Spleen de Paris—"Le Vieux Saltimbanque," " U n e M o r t hcro'ique," " A s s o m m o n s les pauvres!"—represent the self as both subject and o b ject, as a replicated or shared consciousness. But our critical attention is at least as occupied with the stylishly ironic presentations of these fables as it is with their allegorical sense. O n the one hand, the presentation tends to destroy the credibility of even the most realistic pieces. T h e believable anecdotes of, for example, " L e j o u j o u du pauvre," "Les Yeux

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des pauvres," "La Fausse M o n n a i e , " or "Le Vieux Saltimbanque" take on the appearance of fables as arbitrary and as philosophically exemplary as " A s s o m m o n s les pauvres!": the narrator is far less interested in the dramatic immediacy of the anecdotes than in absorbing them into a cerem o n y of recitation. T h a t is, they are worked on as they are presented so that we may see them at once not as life but as material for art, as an aesthetic performance. And yet, as in "Le Peintre de la vie m o d e r n e , " the narrator's very refusal to adhere unambiguously to his material has the effect of transforming the material into a self-expressive speech act. In Le Spleen de Paris, the highest aesthetic refinement is exactly equivalent to the utterance of an individual voice. This may be another way of saying that in each of his prose poems Baudelaire enacts a generic m u t a t i o n — t h e novelizing of poetry, a displacement of the aesthetic f r o m an act of representation to the deployment of a perspective. Perhaps nowhere is Baudelaire m o r e m o d e r n than in this mutational activity, this tribute to the great literary f o r m of the nineteenth century, a f o r m — a s H e n r y James might have put it— reverberating with interpretations of consciousness. Finally, however, the individuality of the ironic narrative voice of Le Spleen de Paris goes no further than its capacity for self-consciousness; it has nothing to express but that. In other words, individuality is a function of selfapprehension. Irony in Baudelaire's prose poems is individuating w i t h out being psychologically expressive. T h e individual subject thus appears in art without violating a fundamental condition of art: that it represent modes of being distinct f r o m particular histories. In the Baudelairean universe of correspondences and fusions, individuation is achieved as the phenomenon of a perspective purified of selfhood. In each relational move by which particular individuals "complete" themselves by connecting to the eternal, or the ideal individuals, already within t h e m — m o r e generally, in each move by which the moi corresponds to the non-moi that it can only ecstatically remember—there is now, perhaps always, an ironic third. There is the subject conscious of those moves, the existential awareness of its o w n metaphysical supplements—an awareness that, most strangely of all, naturalizes and particularizes the metaphysical itself. Nietzsche Art never represents individuals. This premise is central to The Birth of Tragedy, although it might also be thought of as running counter to Nietzsche's most celebrated argument in that book. In contrast to " p r i mordial unity," associated with Dionysus—a unity in which the b o u n d a -

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ries b e t w e e n individuals as well as b e t w e e n h u m a n i t y a n d n a t u r e have been erased or, m o r e exactly, have n o t yet been d r a w n — t h e r e is A p o l l o , " t h e glorious divine i m a g e of t h e principium individuationiswhich " k n o w s b u t o n e law . . . t h e d e l i m i t i n g o f the b o u n d a r i e s o f the i n d i v i d u a l . " 4 0 A n d it is this i n d i v i d u a t i n g principle that "calls art i n t o b e i n g " ; the A p o l l o n i a n i m p u l s e is an " i m p u l s e t o w a r d b e a u t y . " T h e r e is D i o nysian art; nonetheless, art is b o r n as a kind of release o r discharge of t h e D i o n y s i a n in an A p o l l o n i a n w o r l d of distinct images. A n d yet N i e t z s c h e — i n a m o v e that should r e m i n d us o f the distinction b e t w e e n w h a t I have called I'individuel and I'individu in the Baudelairean aesthetic— v e h e m e n t l y w a r n s against any c o n f u s i o n of t h e individual in art w i t h t h e subjective. " W e k n o w the subjective artist only as t h e p o o r artist, and t h r o u g h o u t the entire r a n g e o f art w e d e m a n d first of all t h e c o n q u e s t o f the subjective, r e d e m p t i o n (Erlösung) f r o m the ' e g o , ' and t h e silencing of the individual will a n d d e s i r e " (48). 41 Individuality in art docs n o t constitute h u m a n subjects. N o t o n l y that; it is a m a j o r thesis o f The Birth of Tragedy that t h e principium individuationis is also a redemptive p r i n ciple. Nietzsche's first b o o k — w h i c h N i e t z s c h e h i m s e l f w o u l d later call a " q u e s t i o n a b l e b o o k , " even " a n i m p o s s i b l e b o o k " (17, 19) 4 2 —is a brilliant if at times c o n f u s e d philosophical c o n d e n s a t i o n of the p r o b l e m s w e have been considering, m o r e specifically of the relation b e t w e e n t h e individual (both in the sense of a n o n p s y c h o l o g i c a l , relational individuel established b y c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s and in that of a c o n s t i t u t e d self) a n d t h e r e d e m p t i v e claims o f art. M o s t startlingly f r o m t h e perspective of m y a r g u m e n t a b o u t the a u t h o r i t y of art in a culture of r e d e m p t i o n , The Birth of Tragedy s i m u l t a n e o u s l y attacks that culture and raises the possibility o f a m e t a physical legitimizing of an aesthetic of r e d e m p t i o n . N o w h e r e is t h e a p p a r e n t p a r a d o x o f a n o n s u b j e c t i v e individuality m o r e evident than in t h e " I " of the lyric poet. N i e t z s c h e uses the early Greek poet A r c h i l o c h u s — c a l l e d " t h e first 'subjective' artist" in c o n t r a s t t o H o m e r , " t h e first 'objective' a r t i s t " — t o raise t h e q u e s t i o n o f h o w t h e " l y r i s t " is even " p o s s i b l e as an a r t i s t — h e w h o , a c c o r d i n g to t h e e x p e r i ence of all ages, is continually saying Ί ' and r u n n i n g t h r o u g h the entire c h r o m a t i c scale o f his passions a n d desires." N i e t z s c h e a n s w e r s this q u e s tion b y positing a n o n r e p r c s e n t a t i o n a l " I . " "In t h e first place, as a D i o nysian artist [the lyrist] has identified h i m s e l f w i t h t h e p r i m a l unity, its pain a n d c o n t r a d i c t i o n . " We will c o m e back to that " p a i n and c o n t r a d i c t i o n " (can they be defined?). For t h e m o m e n t I w a n t t o f o c u s on the act of identification itself, o n the fact that the lyrist " h a s already s u r r e n d e r e d his s u b j e c t i v i t y , " has given u p his " I " b e f o r e he utters it ( 4 8 - 4 9 ) . To w h o m , then, does the lyrist's " I " b e l o n g , if indeed it b e l o n g s to anyone? A n "inchoate, intangible reflection of the p r i m o r d i a l pain" is first of all

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given in the lyrist's music, w h i c h is a " p r i m o r d i a l r e - e c h o i n g , " "a r e p e tition and a recast of t h e w o r l d . " ( " T h e m o s t i m p o r t a n t p h e n o m e n o n of all ancient lyric p o e t r y , " N i e t z s c h e writes, is that t h e ancients " t o o k f o r g r a n t e d the union, indeed the identity, o f the lyrist with the musician.") B u t then that reechoing separates o r differentiates itself f r o m that w h i c h it repeats; "a second m i r r o r i n g " is p r o d u c e d that takes t h e f o r m o f "a s p e cific s y m b o l o r e x a m p l e (Gleichniss oder Exempel.)" T h e lyrist n o w sees "his identity w i t h the heart of the w o r l d " — a n identification f r o m w h i c h all individual identity is a b s e n t — i n "a d r e a m scene that e m b o d i e s t h e p r i m o r d i a l c o n t r a d i c t i o n and p r i m o r d i a l pain, t o g e t h e r w i t h t h e p r i m o r dial pleasure o f m e r e a p p e a r a n c e . " T h e lyrist's " I " is o n e o f t h e actors in this scene; it helps to constitute a d r a m a t i c s y m b o l o r e x a m p l e . M o r e exactly, there seem to be t w o "I"s in t h e lyrist's w o r k . T h e first " s o u n d s f r o m the d e p t h of his b e i n g " ; it is, w e m i g h t say, the " I " w h o s e n o n e x istence as a distinct "I" t h e d r e a m scene symbolizes. B u t there is also a persona w i t h i n t h e p o e m w h o says " I , " a d r e a m i n g , passionate f i g u r e w h o s e subjectivity, h o w e v e r , is a " f i c t i o n " (49). N o t e that this fiction m a y o r m a y n o t be identical to the lyrist's empirical self. Given t h e fictive n a t u r e of any " I " , there is n o representation of the subject that w o u l d be m o r e real, m o r e faithful to its referent or origin, than a n y o t h e r r e p r e s e n tation. Because there is, p r o f o u n d l y , no " I , " any n u m b e r of "I"s is p o s sible. T h u s t h e subjective passion of t h e lyric p o e t in his p o e m has n o representational obligation w h a t s o e v e r t o w a r d the passions o f t h e p o e t Archilochus. T h e " I " w i t h i n t h e lyrist's w o r k is n o t p o i n t e d t o w a r d t h e m a n w r i t i n g t h e w o r k , f o r the latter is n o m o r e original than t h e f o r m e r . Indeed N i e t z s c h e imagines that the lyric poet m a y use his empirical self as j u s t o n e of the images in his p o e m , an i m a g e that is n o truer, n o m o r e real than any o f the others: N o w let us s u p p o s e that a m o n g these i m a g e s h e also b e h o l d s himself as n o n genius, i.e., his subject, t h e w h o l e t h r o n g o f subjective passions a n d a g i t a tions o f t h e will dircctcd t o a d e f i n i t e o b j e c t w h i c h a p p e a r s real t o h i m . It m i g h t s e e m as if t h e lyric g e n i u s and t h e allied n o n - g e n i u s w e r e o n e , as if t h e f o r m e r h a d o f its o w n a c c o r d s p o k e n t h a t little w o r d " I . " B u t this m e r e a p p e a r a n c e will n o l o n g e r b e able t o lead us astray, as it certainly led astray t h o s e w h o d e s i g n a t e d t h e lyrist as t h e s u b j e c t i v e p o e t . For, as a m a t t e r o f fact, A r c h i l o c h u s , t h e passionately i n f l a m e d , loving, a n d h a t i n g m a n , is b u t a vision o f t h e genius, w h o b y this t i m e is n o l o n g e r m e r e l y A r c h i l o c h u s , b u t a w o r l d - g e n i u s e x p r e s s i n g his p r i m o r d i a l pain s y m b o l i c a l l y in t h e s y m bol o f t h e m a n A r c h i l o c h u s — w h i l e t h e subjectively w i l l i n g a n d d e s i r i n g m a n , A r c h i l o c h u s , can n e v e r at any t i m e b e a p o e t . It is b y n o m e a n s n e c essary, h o w e v e r , t h a t t h e lyrist s h o u l d see n o t h i n g b u t t h e p h e n o m e n o n o f t h e m a n A r c h i l o c h u s b e f o r e h i m as a reflection o f eternal b e i n g ; and t r a g e d y s h o w s h o w far t h e v i s i o n a r y w o r l d o f t h e lyrist m a y b e r e m o v e d f r o m this p h e n o m e n o n w h i c h , t o be sure, is closest at h a n d . ( 5 0 - 5 1 )

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Nietzsche's discussion of all this is far f r o m unambiguous. T h e "world-genius expressing his primordial pain symbolically in the s y m bol of the man Archilochus" is, in the sentence preceding the paragraph just quoted, also called "the only truly existent and eternal self (Ichheit) resting at the basis of things." This is presumably a nonsubjective self, one present in all the lyrist's images, images that are "only different p r o jections of himself, so he, as the moving center of this world, may say T " (50). But all the figures of any dramatic literary work are "only different projections" of the author's self, that is, of his subjective self. Selfdispersal is not necessarily the sign of a nonsubjective " I . " Nietzsche's argument is weakened by his attempt to imagine and to favor a n o n subjective self, the lyrist's real self, the self "resting at the basis of things." For the main thrust of his argument is that there can be no self at the basis of things. T h e problem might be defined as a linguistic one. Language itself is part of the symbolic dream scene; it already belongs to, indeed may constitute, a register of being that posits a self alien to the selfless being at "the heart of the w o r l d . " What Nietzsche calls an " I " f r o m the depths of the lyrist's being is not an " I , " but a condition of being to which the very possibility of naming a delimited subject is absolutely alien. But even by saying this we of course demonstrate the possibility of a kind of critical transcendence of language by language (a transcendence implicitly designated but not performed by Nietzsche here), in which, first of all, the anomalous use of " I " referred to would be recognized. Even more crucially, that critical move would allow us to see the problematic status of what Nietzsche presents as an example and as a symbol (perhaps more accurately, simile: Gleichniss), or "a reflection of eternal being." T h e principal difficulty he faces is to imagine h o w one order of being can reflect or exemplify or be like a wholly different order of being. For the symbol here is by its very nature (as a distinct, individual image) incommensurable with the nonindividuated being it is said to symbolize. 4 3 There is, as we shall see, perhaps another way to formulate this passage f r o m primal being to the world of phenomena. T h e interest of the section I am discussing lies in the claim it makes for the purely contingent nature of subjectivity both in and outside art. A self is always an image or a fiction, and while Nietzsche seems more comfortable making this argument by opposing "the man Archilochus" to Archilochus as w o r l d genius or as "the only truly existent and eternal self resting at the basis of things," his definition of "the basis of things" should lead us to conclude that images of the self never refer to an identity. There is no identity at the basis of things. And the lyrist as a persona in his poems recognizably different f r o m the lyrist's real self is actually no more of a fiction than the lyrist himself. T h e latter is nothing m o r e than the phe-

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n o m e n o n "closest at h a n d , " but no less of a phenomenon for that. Life, then, has no special authority as the referent of art. And while Nietzsche makes immense claims for art, art also loses its traditional authority as a superior version of life. 44 O r , rather, art is superior to life, but life itself can be viewed as art, and this superiority has to do with a certain superficiality or lack of reality. Life and art are both fictions; what we will have to see is h o w a certain type of fiction can be redemptive. Both art and life as art are superior to "the subject, the willing individual that furthers his o w n egoistic ends" and that "can be conceived of only as the antagonist, not as the origin of art." Art teaches us n o t h ing and does not improve us; as moral and psychological subjects, we can't even claim to be the creators of works of art. H u m a n pride claims that art mirrors—and reveals the profound sense o f — h u m a n existence. Nietzsche, on the other hand, strips art of everything except its relation to the metaphysical. And that relation has nothing profound about it; it consists in the reduction of phenomena to the status of mere images and "artistic" projections for the true author at the basis of things, for the primal unity. Nietzsche's original and intricate move here is to make a claim for the metaphysical nature of art (and, consequently, for the metaphysical significance of life viewed as art) by eliminating all meaning f r o m art beyond its mere appearance as projected images. It is at once humbling and exalting for h u m a n beings to realize that their existence can have no greater dignity than to be simplified (desire and will are gone, the moral life is gone, knowledge is gone) to a merely metaphysical sense. All this is said in one of the most famous passages of The Birth of Tragedy: For to our humiliation and exaltation, one thing above all must be clear to us. T h e entire comedy of art is neither performed for our betterment or education nor are we the true authors of this art world. O n the contrary, w e may assume that we are merely images and artistic projections for the true author, and that we have our highest dignity in our significance as works of a r t — f o r it is only as an aesthetic phenomenon that existence and the world are eternally justified—while of course o u r consciousness of our o w n significance hardly differs f r o m that which the soldiers painted on canvas have of the battle represented on it. (52) *

*

*

H o w do we become art? And, in art, what is the metaphysical individual, the individual whose psychological and moral attributes have no significance? In his reading of Greek tragedy, Nietzsche dismisses all interpretations based on the idea of its cathartic effect or the hero's tragic flaw: Never since Aristotle has an explanation of the tragic effect been offered f r o m which aesthetic states or an aesthetic activity of the listener could be

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inferred. Now the serious events are supposed to prompt pity and fear to discharge themselves in a way that relieves us; now we are supposed to feel elevated and inspired by the triumph of good and noble principles, at the sacrifice of the hero in the interest of a moral vision of the universe. I am sure that for countless men precisely this, and only this, is the effect of tragedy, but it plainly follows that all these men, together with their interpreting aestheticians, have had no experience of tragedy as a supreme art. (132) O e d i p u s ' pride, for example, is ethically neutralized by Nietzsche. S o p h ocles' h e r o is guilty neither of parricide and incest n o r of an arrogant confidence in his o w n w i s d o m or in his ability to escape his predicted fate. It is O e d i p u s ' w i s d o m itself that is his " c r i m e , " b u t the crime is n o t a m o r a l one. " T h e m y t h seems to w h i s p e r to us that w i s d o m . . . is an unnatural a b o m i n a t i o n , " but this remains an extremely enigmatic statem e n t of ethical n o r m s (except in the vague and moralistic sense that w i s d o m encourages unnatural and destructive pride), unless w e interpret it, as Nietzsche does, to mean that w i s d o m violates the conditions that allow for creation. In O e d i p u s ' case, w i s d o m is of course associated w i t h riddle solving and w i t h " p r o p h e t i c and magical powers [that] have b r o ken the spell of present and f u t u r e . " P r o p h e c y and magic d o n o t trivialize the notion of w i s d o m ; on the contrary, they can be t h o u g h t of as its highest f o r m s . Far f r o m being content w i t h a passive u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the boundaries and constraints i m p o s e d on h u m a n existence, true w i s d o m k n o w s h o w to lift those constraints, to overstep those boundaries. T h e w i s d o m that merely c o m p r e h e n d s boundaries is second-best, the prize given to the defeated. T h e w i s d o m of p r o p h e t s and magicians, o n the other hand, includes k n o w l e d g e that time i t s e l f — " t h e spell of present and f u t u r e " — h a s m a d e impossible. It has thus b r o k e n " t h e rigid law of i n d i v i d u a t i o n , " w h i c h in this context refers n o t to h u m a n individuation but to the articulation of the eternal itself into t e m p o r a l succession (68). T h i s kind of w i s d o m — w h i c h Nietzsche calls " D i o n y s i a n w i s d o m " because it tends to collapse difference back into the p r i m o r d i a l u n i t y — i s the " u n n a t u r a l a b o m i n a t i o n . " Such k n o w l e d g e — a n d there is hardly any rhetorical exaggeration h e r e — " p l u n g e s nature into the abyss of destruct i o n , " into a simultaneity ontologically incompatible w i t h creation. Such a sage m u s t therefore "suffer the dissolution of nature in his o w n p e r s o n " — i n the case of O e d i p u s , the crimes of parricide and incest. T h o s e crimes are, f r o m the Nietzschean perspective, identical to the crime of k n o w l e d g e (he speaks of " s o m e e n o r m o u s l y unnatural e v e n t — s u c h as incest—[which] m u s t have occurred earlier, as a cause," b u t perhaps also as a corollary of the " p r o p h e t i c and magical p o w e r s " manifested in O e dipus' life). In particular, incest, like prophecy, violates " t h e rigid law of individuation"; it is a denial of separateness, a return to the original o n e -

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ness of two. Oedipus' sexual union with his mother is a "dissolution of nature in his o w n person," not merely in the sense of a violation of "the most sacred natural orders" b u t — m o r e literally, m o r e corporeally—a dissolving of the boundaries of his distinct being in this fusion with the (m)other (68-69). T h e Oedipus plays give us "the glory of passivity," but it is "the story of activity" that illuminates Aeschylus' Prometheus (69). Still Nietzsche interprets the two heroes in essentially similar ways. Prometheus' crime can also be said to be against the law of individuation, but n o w the crime is one of deed rather than of consciousness. It is the power of O e d i p u s ' mind that is transgressive; prophecy and magic are knowledge no longer constrained by the conditions of created being. Prometheus, on the other hand, steals fire, which might be called a transgression of spatial individuation. " T h e presupposition of the Prometheus m y t h is to be found in the extravagant value which a naive humanity attaches to fire as the true palladium of every ascending culture. But that man should freely dispose of fire without receiving it as a present f r o m heaven, either as a lightning bolt or as the warming rays of the sun, struck these reflective primitive men as sacrilege, as a robbery of divine nature" (71). There is an interesting if primitive reflection here: since I see fire in the heavens, it must belong there, and if I appropriate it for the earth, the universe might no longer be recognizable. This is not the sophisticated Sophoclean sense of a possible and dangerous incommensurability of mind with creation, the sense of mind as so powerful that it will overturn the very conditions of knowledge in creation. T h e Aeschylean intuition of a collapse of boundaries is almost entirely perceptual: to bring the attributes of the sun to the earth is to attack the clarity of the most fundamental distinction in our universe. Rather than seeing Oedipus and Prometheus as individuals, Nietzsche considers them as participants in dramas about individuation. N o w to the extent that the impulse to art is identified with the Apollonian in Nietzsche's first book, his subject—the birth of tragedy—is a somewhat paradoxical illustration of his central argument. Tragedy works against the principium individuationis. "In the heroic effort of the individual to attain universality, in the attempt to transcend the curse of individuation and to become the one world-being, he suffers in his o w n person the primordial contradiction that is concealed in things, which means that he commits sacrilege and suffers" (74). It is important to remember this when we read the famous passages in The Birth of Tragedy about the Apollonian state as the reposeful contemplation of individual forms, of redemptive appearances. It is true that the Dionysian chorus "discharges itself in an Apollinian world of images." O n the other hand, "being the

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objectification of a Dionysian state," Greek tragedy "represents not Apollinian redemption through mere appearance but, on the contrary, the shattering of the individual and his fusion with primal being. T h u s the drama is the Dionysian embodiment of Dionysian insights and effects and thereby separated, as by a tremendous chasm, f r o m the epic" (65). We will have to understand how, f r o m a Dionysian perspective, individuation is both redemptive and "the primal cause of evil" (74). Oedipus and Prometheus are the symbolic appearances through w h o m Apollo "interprets to the chorus its Dionysian state:" In truth, however, the hero is the suffering Dionysus of the Mysteries, the god experiencing in himself the agonies of individuation, of w h o m w o n derful m y t h s tell that as a boy he was torn to pieces by the Titans and n o w is worshiped in this state as Zagreus. T h u s it is intimated that this d i s m e m berment, the properly Dionysian suffering, is like a transformation into air, water, earth, and fire, that we are therefore to regard the state of individuation as the origin and primal cause of all suffering, as something objectionable in itself.

T h e tragic myth simultaneously punishes the transgression of boundaries and holds out the promise of "a rebirth of Dionysus," that is, "the end of individuation." From this perspective, individuation is an original Fall, the fall into creation itself. And perhaps the most p r o f o u n d interpretation Nietzsche proposes of Greek tragedy is not that it warns h u manity against the temptation to transcend the individual, but rather that—given the fundamental knowledge it embodies " o f the oneness of everything existent"—individuation is a crime against Being and that, the fate of the tragic hero notwithstanding, Greek tragedy encourages "the joyous hope that the spell of individuation may be broken in augury of a restored oneness" (74). 45 Redemption, then, may be a two-way street. Yet if redemption is both through and f r o m individuation, it is achieved neither by nor for individuals. Nietzsche is, I think, describing a movement between the physical and the metaphysical, and the difficult notion of an ontological redemption will be intelligible only if we rigorously banish not only the category of subjective selfhood but also that of art as symbolic or exemplary. T h e very use of Dionysus as the mythic incarnation of oneness corrupts the notion of the Dionysian itself with a mythologically delimited figure. T h u s a oneness that by its very nature cannot be figured is named D i o nysus or, as we have seen, is referred to as "the only truly existent and eternal self resting at the basis of things," as a "world-genius" or "the only truly existent subject" or the "primordial artist of the w o r l d . " H a v ing thus figured the Dionysian, Nietzsche can speak of the heroes of

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Greek tragedy as "symbolic appearances" of Dionysus—as if a distinct figure could symbolize or project that which is not a transcendence of it but which can be understood only as its annihilation. 4 6 Indeed, Nietzsche's discussion of Greek tragedy suggests something far more interesting than a view of Oedipus and Prometheus as symbols of the Dionysian. As Nietzsche was to say in his critical preface to the 1886 edition of The Birth of Tragedy—and it is said in order to indicate what he still admires in the b o o k — " a r t , and not morality, is presented as the truly metaphysical activity of man" (22). If we are to take that claim seriously—and it is the conceptual foundation on which the relation between the Apollonian and the Dionysian is built—then we must say that art is not symbolic or illustrative of metaphysical reality; rather it constitutes that reality. It is only in art, or as art, that the h u m a n subject becomes a metaphysical being. T h e interpretation of art is, then, a commentary on metaphysics. And this is precisely the m o d e in which Nietzsche reads Greek tragedy. Oedipus and Prometheus enact the i m probability of their o w n confinement within the names and figures of Oedipus and Prometheus. Their lack of measure is the metaphysical dimension of consciousness; through them, Sophocles and Aeschylus represent what might be called the affinities of consciousness with realities beyond the subjectivity and the place that contain consciousness but that consciousness always exceeds. They represent, in other words (to return to a Baudelairean vocabulary), those correspondences t h r o u g h which the " I " loses itself in the " n o n - I . " Nietzsche philosophically relocates what an ethical criticism would call the pride of the tragic hero as a morally neutral violation of the b o u n d a ries of being. T h e only function of the ethical f r o m the Nietzschean perspective is as an imperfect metaphor for the incompatibility of those violations with the conditions of individuation. It is not moral laws that govern the universe, but rather ontological contradictions, contradictions inevitably appropriated by the all too available language of moral laws. If these contradictions can be represented only in art (and not in a treatise on metaphysics), this is because the metaphysical itself can only be enacted as a representation—not as a symbolic representation but as that of a figure dissolving its own figured state. T h e figures of art are necessary for their always imminent immolation in the fusions and simultaneities of being that can never be figured in art. *

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T h e metaphysical in Nietzsche's argument is thus always played or performed in a drama of individuation. But I have been giving a biased view of Nietzsche's metaphysical aesthetic by leaning so heavily on his o w n

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m a j o r example. T h e " w o r l d of i m a g e s " in art is always an Apollonian w o r l d , even t h o u g h , as in Greek tragedy, that w o r l d does n o t represent " r e d e m p t i o n t h r o u g h mere appearance but, on the contrary, the shattering of the individual and his fusion w i t h primal b e i n g " (65). M u s i c m a y be essentially Dionysian, w h i c h means that—especially in " t h e e m o tional power of the tone, the u n i f o r m flow of the melody, and the utterly incomparable w o r l d of h a r m o n y " (40)—it is "a repetition and a recast of the w o r l d , " a " c o p y of this primal u n i t y " (49). B u t i n a s m u c h as the i m pulse to articulation is central to all art, then art m u s t be considered as the h i g h e s t — m o s t deliberate and m o s t d e v e l o p e d — m a n i f e s t a t i o n of the Apollonian. In his 1886 preface, Nietzsche defines the "artists' m e t a physics" in The Birth of Tragedy as positing "a ' g o d , ' if you please, b u t certainly only an entirely reckless and amoral artist-god w h o w a n t s to experience, w h e t h e r he is building or destroying, in the g o o d and in the bad, his o w n j o y and g l o r y — o n e w h o , creating worlds, frees himself f r o m the distress of fullness and overfullness and f r o m the affliction of the contradictions compressed in his s o u l " (22). This is indeed "artists' m e t a physics" in that the account it gives of the creation of the universe is an inference f r o m the h u m a n creation of w o r k s of art. In art, created being is implicitly defined as a r e d e m p t i v e release f r o m " o v e r f u l l n e s s . " T h e a n t h r o p o m o r p h i c projection of this m e a n i n g in art o n t o the creation of the universe is n o t a way of affirming s o m e original C r e a tion, b u t is perhaps the only means of designating the metaphysical nature of artistic sense. T h e transcendental inference should be t h o u g h t of as a metaphysical m e t a p h o r , w h i c h allows us to visualize the deeply ambivalent impulse to appearance that is the significance and the s u b ject of art. Art in fact c o n f i r m s the nonnecessity of the divine in the constituting of a metaphysical dimension; the imagination of fusions and correspondences irreducible to individual identities is the p h e n o m e n o n of a h u m a n consciousness perhaps inherently unsituated, unlocated. T h e Apollonian is the impulse to save consciousness f r o m the n o n i d e n tity, the overfullness of those fusions, of an always potential oneness o f being. In Nietzsche's terms, " p r i m a l u n i t y " needs " r a p t u r o u s vision" or "pleasurable illusion" or " m e r e appearance." Apollo is " t h e apotheosis of the principium individuationis, in w h i c h alone is c o n s u m m a t e d the p e r petually attained goal of the primal unity, its r e d e m p t i o n t h r o u g h m e r e appearance (das ewigerreichte Ziel des Ur-Einen, seine Erlösung durch den Schein)" (45). We can perhaps interpret this to m e a n that the principium individuationis rescues consciousness f r o m the distress of nonidentity. But it is i m p o r tant to see that this individuation is as metaphysically conceived as its c o m p l e m e n t a r y and menacing oneness. Individuation, far f r o m being

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a r e t u r n t o t h e empirical, is an a f f i r m a t i o n of t h e individual in spite of the empirical. T h e individual c a n n o t be characterized; it is actually t h e activity of " d e l i m i t i n g the b o u n d a r i e s o f t h e individual, measure in the Hellenic s e n s e . " It is t r u e that this m e a s u r e has its m o r a l corollaries: " A p o l l o , an ethical deity . . . requires s e l f - k n o w l e d g e , " m a k e s t h e d e m a n d s " k n o w t h y s e l f " a n d " n o t h i n g in excess" (46). In its essence, h o w e v e r — a s an aesthetic p r i n c i p l e — t h e principium individuationis enacts n o t h i n g m o r e than the possibility o f b o u n d e d being. It separates; it delimits. A n d this is t h e s o u r c e of aesthetic calm, o f t h a t "will-less c o n t e m p l a t i o n " w h i c h " t h e strictly A p o l l o n i a n artists" e v o k e in us (130). " A p o l l o w a n t s to g r a n t repose t o individual beings precisely b y d r a w i n g b o u n d a r i e s b e t w e e n t h e m " (72). Because t h e s o u r c e o f t h a t r e p o s e is in the perception of the b o u n d a r i e s , A p o l l o n i a n individuality is u n r e l a t e d to t h e individuals w h o , aesthetically, are m e r e l y traced b y t h e d r a w i n g of those b o u n d a r i e s . In o u r r e s p o n s e to characters in literature o r to h u m a n figures in p a i n t ing and sculpture, w e m u s t t h e r e f o r e be like the epic p o e t w h o can e n j o y Achilles' " a n g r y expression . . . w i t h the dreamer's pleasure in i l l u s i o n , " precisely because "even t h e i m a g e o f t h e a n g r y Achilles is o n l y an i m a g e to h i m " (50). We m i g h t e x t e n d t h e logic of Nietzsche's t h o u g h t a n d say that the a n g r y Achilles—Achilles as a particular psychological s u b j e c t — i s already t o o general to serve as a representation o f t h e principium individuationis. Indeed, t h e m o s t p r o f o u n d characteristic of t h e p s y c h o logical and the m o r a l — w h i c h m a y be w h y they have been privileged in a l o n g " a n t i - N i e t z s c h e a n " aesthetic t r a d i t i o n — i s their a p t i t u d e f o r b e i n g universalized. T h e psychological and the ethical self, h o w e v e r carefully it may be particularized b y t h e artist, is easily recognizable as a c o m m u nal, even universal self. It has traits that all m e n a n d w o m e n m a y r e c o g nize, and w h i l e this has o f t e n been p r e s u m e d to be t h e sign o f great achievement in aesthetic characterization, it is f o r N i e t z s c h e w h a t disqualifies " c h a r a c t e r " as an aesthetic p h e n o m e n o n . T h e self m u s t be erased f o r t h e A p o l l o n i a n individual to be perceived. T h e A p o l l o n i a n in art is the c o n d i t i o n of possibility o f the empirical; it is at o n c e a release f r o m the overfullness o f u n d i f f e r e n t i a t e d b e i n g a n d a rejection o f t h e always i m m i n e n t generality of psychological and ethical character. It is as if w e could see pure demarcation. T h u s — a n d quite p a r a d o x i c a l l y — t h e A p o l l o n i a n is, like the D i o n y s i a n (but f o r w h o l l y different reasons), a threat to a p p e a r a n c e s — a threat t o that in w h i c h it is g r o u n d e d . Since all particular figures are potentially generalizable, f o r t h e absolutely i n d i vidual to appear w e m u s t see only the b o u n d a r i e s that trace figures or, even m o r e problematically, the appearances of figures d i v o r c e d f r o m their content. *

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In what sense is the principium individuationis redemptive? " A r t , " Nietzsche writes, "is not merely imitation of the reality of nature but rather a metaphysical supplement of the reality of nature, placed beside it for its overcoming (ein metaphysisches Supplement des Naturwirklichkeit . . . zu deren Ueberwindung neben sie gestellt)" (140). Art does not refer to life; it supplements it. That supplement should not, however, be understood as a correction. T h e later sections of The Birth of Tragedy analyze a p r o found mistake "that first saw the light of the world in the person of Socrates: the unshakable faith that thought, using the thread of causality, can penetrate the deepest abysses of being, and that thought is capable not only of knowing being but even of correcting it" (95). Nietzsche attributes this illusion to the "theoretical m a n , " but it is obviously relevant not only to the history of philosophy but also to the ways in which we have been trained to think of art. In a view of art as a superior version of life—superior by virtue of the f o r m and significance it presumably discovers in the life it imitates—art is enslaved to the objects it also annihilates and transcends. Art redeems the catastrophes of experience—of individual and collective histories—by the violence of its symbolic reconstructions of experience. This redemptive aesthetic is inherently sacrificial, as we can see if we reread tragedy f r o m a n o n - (even anti-) Nietzschean perspective. (And though I have of course been arguing for Nietzsche's interpretation, the spirit of Nietzschean thought requires that we entertain the most antagonistic theories as corresponding to the shifting appearances of sense within, for example, Greek tragedy.) T h e tragic h e r o — a n d we might include here not only Oedipus but also Lear, Othello, and Racine's Phedre—dies (or loses his worldly power) at the m o m e n t of self-comprehension. H e is sacrificed to his understanding of himself. Oedipus' life is simultaneously destroyed and corrected by his k n o w l edge o f t h a t life. A catastrophic error or defect is s o m e h o w made u p for by the hero's (the victim's, the sinner's) consciousness of his defect. Life is redeemed by an act of cognition. And as spectators, we are purified—vicariously purged of life itself—by this ascension into knowledge, an ascension that rescues us f r o m the hero's tragic fate. This is the ethical reading of tragedy that Nietzsche scornfully rejects when, in a passage quoted earlier, he refers to "the sacrifice of the hero in the interest of a moral vision of the universe." To see the hero in this way is to "react merely as moral beings when listening to a tragedy" (132). From this perspective, the life of the tragic hero also traces a familiar theory of sublimation. T h e relation of the wise blind Oedipus to his catastrophic existence metaphorically theorizes the relation of this tragedy, and of all art, to life. In Kleinean terms, sublimations are s y m bolic reparations of damaged experience; they are spectral replications of

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experience, entirely bound to the shattering and shattered fantasies they repair, but at the same time liberated f r o m those fantasies by virtue of repeating them as knowledge, without affect. Fundamentally, what needs to be repaired in those fantasies are the individual identities they have shattered. T h e projections, introjections, and identifications studied by Klein gravely problematize the formation of a bounded ego; what she called the restitutive tendencies of sublimation are tendencies to give back to the subject—and to the objects of the subject's love and hatred—their securely traced boundaries. T h e redemptive role of knowledge—its ethical value—is thus inseparable f r o m a primarily cognitive and adaptive view of ego formation that, as we have seen, is implicitly repudiated by Freud's hypothesis, at the beginning of his essay " O n Narcissism," of egoconstitution as identical to egoshattering. In this view, sublimation, precisely because it is an ego activity, must be a sexualizing activity. T h e constitution of psychic boundaries originates as the narcissistic project of reliving a self-shattering jouissance incompatible with psychic b o u n d a ries. But this, as I have argued in Chapter 2, is denied in Freud's later theory of the ego. T h e repudiation of his o w n hypothesis is reinforced by a view of the ego's desexualization as that which makes it w o r t h y of the superego's approval. So too the ego activities of sublimation are defined as desexualizing activities, thus counteracting that other view of sublimation (outlined most explicitly toward the end of chapter 1 in Freud's book on Leonardo da Vinci) according to which cultural s y m bolizations are always invested with unrepressed sexual energy. In these later Kleinean and Freudian views of sublimation, as in the aesthetic I have outlined on the basis of an anti-Nietzschean reading of the tragic hero's fate, art and cultural symbolizations in general are the work of an ego purified of its dependence on the body. T h e hero's death is the dramatic figure for this purifying sacrifice. As Proust's narrator suggests, only by dying can he truly begin to live—to live, that is, as a uniquely aesthetic self. T h u s the redemptive aesthetic posits—like the aesthetic of The Birth of Tragedy—a constitutive link between art and individuation. But, unlike the Nietzschean version of this, the Proustian and psychoanalytic versions of the individual in art (an individual both responsible for artistic creation and represented in works of art) are visions of the empirical self cognitively and morally perfected rather than of the individual as the metaphysical articulation and differentiation of being. In the culture of redemption, the passage into art is a ritual of sacrificial transcendence. In the Nietzschean aesthetic, on the other hand, redemption should probably be understood as a kind of release of being rather than as a moral rehabilitation. T h e "pleasurable illusion" given to us by Apollo is that being is commensurate with appearance. "I feel myself impelled,"

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Nietzsche writes, " t o the metaphysical a s s u m p t i o n that the truly existent primal unity, eternally suffering and contradictory, also needs the r a p t u r ous visions, the pleasurable illusion, for its c o n t i n u o u s r e d e m p t i o n " (45). T h i s can be r e f o r m u l a t e d as a p h e n o m e n o n of consciousness w i t h w h i c h o u r study of Baudelaire has m a d e us familiar. " P r i m a l u n i t y " w o u l d e x press an intuition of consciousness a b o u t being: the intuition that being consists of mobile fusions and c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s — o r , in other terms, that being is n o t reducible to identities. Consciousness itself w o u l d be b o t h the subject and one of the objects of this " u n d e r s t a n d i n g " ; it w o u l d , as it were, k n o w the difference between itself and the subjectivity to w h i c h it is b o u n d . Each " I " w o u l d lodge an intrinsically universal " n o n - I , " a " n o n - I " that w o u l d " b e " n o t h i n g b u t its continuously shifting contacts, affinities, and positions. It is perhaps consciousness as untraceable correspondences that needs the u n i q u e cognitive release of the principium individuationis. T h i s release cannot be provided b y the subjectivity w i t h w h i c h consciousness is already too familiar. Subjectivity is, o n the one hand, too restrictive (too exclusively h u m a n ) an individuating principle to provide the necessary guarantee of I'individuel in the universe and, o n the other, not individual e n o u g h by virtue of the generalizable n a t u r e of psychological and ethical attributions. W h a t saves (or releases, redeems) consciousness f r o m its inability to posit an identity for itself is n o t an identity for consciousness (which could perhaps only be a subjectivity) b u t rather a kind of visionary (necessarily nonperceptual) experience of traces, lines, demarcations. Yet lines delineate f o r m s , and f o r m s , as Baudelaire suggests, always m o v e t o w a r d those other f o r m s w i t h w h i c h they c o r r e s p o n d . T h e principium individuationis is therefore n o t exactly a formalizing principle. It stops operating before f o r m s are solidified; it can be n o t h i n g m o r e than the appearing of their appearance. W h a t is absolutely individual dies at the m o m e n t of being defined; w h a t Apollo give us is n o t definite f o r m s b u t rather, as Nietzsche says over and over again, " m e r e appearance (Schein)." T h e r e d e m p t i v e p o w e r of the Apollonian is indissociable f r o m its impoverished nature. T h e poet's, and our, " r a p t u r o u s vision" is n o t of the too defined character of Achilles (a character is always t o o defined) b u t rather of a d e n u d e d Achilles, an Achilles stripped of selfhood, Achilles as the pure appearing of the individual that is the condition of p o s sibility of the character Achilles. B u t h o w can w e see such appearing? We cannot. It is n o t h i n g b u t an illusion, appearance as illusion, illusory because it appears. W h a t I have interpreted as the appearing of appearance can never give us the evidential security encouraged (if n o t really authorized) b y perceived f o r m s . It is s o m e t h i n g that had to take place w i t h o u t ever taking place; it is, exactly, the principle of individuation in w h i c h all individual f o r m s are g r o u n d e d .

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This, Nietzsche suggests, is w h a t art deceives us into t h i n k i n g w e see. Art saves us f r o m the distress of overfullness not by the perhaps equally distressful variety of its individual figures, b u t by m a k i n g those figures s o m e w h a t d o u b t f u l — b y partially derealizing t h e m , b y m o v i n g t h e m back to that stage of being w h e r e they are n o t h i n g m o r e than a kind of impersonal confidence in the possibility of their realization. In this ascetic t r i u m p h of the individual as merely the appearing of appearance, Apollo is p o o r . R e d e m p t i o n , as I have said, turns o u t to be a t w o - w a y street. Nietzsche insists so often on the primal unity's need for r e d e m p t i o n t h r o u g h appearance that w e may underestimate the i m portance of his claim that the Dionysian, or "intoxicated reality," "seeks to destroy the individual and redeem h i m by a mystical feeling of o n e ness" (38). T h e highest effect of Greek tragedy is one " t h a t transcends all Apollinian artistic effects. In the total effect of tragedy, the D i o n y s i a n predominates once again." T h e spectator "sees the tragic hero before h i m in epic clearness and beauty, and nevertheless rejoices in his annihilation" (130—131). M e r e appearance is redeemed by the fullness of primal unity, by undifferentiated being. T h e individual figure in art is, then, menaced b o t h by the principium individuationis that reduces it to the possibility of appearance itself and by a Dionysian yearning for ever m o b i l e fusions. Like the Apollonian, b u t for w h o l l y different reasons, the D i o n y s i a n makes the identity of figures d o u b t f u l — b e c a u s e each figure, even while staying in place, is s o m e w h a t departicularized as it designates its correspondences w i t h a magnetic field of other figures. T h e D i o n y s i a n saves us f r o m the r e d e m p t i v e illusion of the individual; it cancels out, and redeems, Apollo's crime of cutting into being, of defiguring it w i t h figures, w i t h lines and f o r m s . C a n it be, finally, that this return to the Dionysian is a way of m y thologizing the self-shattering that is the consequence of narcissistic selfcontemplation? Let us end w i t h a speculation by n o means authorized in The Birth of Tragedy: it is the " r a p t u r o u s vision" of the Apollonian that shatters Apollonian calm. A n d let us consider this speculation as a p s y choanalytically inspired h o m a g e to Nietzsche's o w n repudiation, later in his life, of the idea of art as inspiring " p u r e c o n t e m p l a t i o n devoid of interest" (48). Psychoanalysis reformulates the Nietzschean tension (it is not an opposition) between the Dionysian and the Apollonian as the inevitable m o v e m e n t in the h u m a n subject between the self-shattering jouissance of the sexual and the desexualizing tracing of an ego's b o u n d a ries. But if the ego is originally constituted in order to be shattered, then the ego's consciousness of its boundaries may always include the possibility of a boundless self-interest that will explode boundaries. T h i s interest is not a desire for s o m e t h i n g ; it is a desire to be w i t h an intensity that

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c a n n o t be c o n t a i n e d — h e l d in o r d e f i n e d — b y a self. In a sense, such desire is indeed characterized b y a disinterestedness generally associated w i t h art. B u t this disinterestedness is the sign n o t of a lack of affect b u t rather of a drive so p u r e that it covets n o objects. If it is t r u e that " A p o l l o w a n t s t o g r a n t r e p o s e to individual beings precisely b y d r a w i n g b o u n d a ries b e t w e e n t h e m , " t h e r e p o s e f u l c o n t e m p l a t i o n of t h o s e b o u n d a r i e s p e r h a p s necessarily generates t h e intoxicated distress o f t h e D i o n y s i a n . T h e A p o l l o n i a n pleasure in b o u n d a r i e s is of c o u r s e a specular pleasure: the r a p t u r o u s vision of the principium individuationis at w o r k in art c o n f i r m s , f o r a time, the b o u n d e d n a t u r e of the e n r a p t u r e d consciousness, its o w n singleness. B u t it is precisely that pleasure, that r a p t u r e , w h i c h signals the annihilation of t h e individual in the painful ecstasy o f t h e D i o nysian. O u r " r e j o i c i n g " in the tragic hero's annihilation is o u r participation in jouissance, t h e sign of o u r truly disinterested (and aesthetic) readiness, as N i e t z s c h e writes, to silence " t h e individual will and d e s i r e . " Yet t h e silencing is t h e effect of a narcissistic passion, a l t h o u g h the effect of this passion m a y be to destroy its object. A r t plays w i t h these b o u n d a r i e s — t o the p o i n t even o f reflecting u p o n that play in its m o v e s a l o n g the b o u n d a r i e s b e t w e e n the b o u n d e d and t h e u n b o u n d e d . It is, t h e n , these risks of disappearance a n d of a p p e a r a n c e — t h e risk of a d y i n g at once m o r e insignificant and infinitely m o r e consequential t h a n o u r p e r sonal d e a t h — t h a t w e accept w h e n w e " e n t e r " art.

CHAPTER

4

Literature and History: Malraux and Bataille What is literature's responsibility toward history? And h o w have writers expressed, or possibly repudiated, the idea of a relation between the imaginary and the historical? In order to begin answering these questions, I will be looking at t w o modern novels that refer to some of the most dramatic political events of our century: Andre Malraux's La Condition humaine and Georges Bataille's Le Bleu du del. Malraux's novel— which takes place mainly in Shanghai in 1927—documents an especially critical m o m e n t in modern Chinese history, the break between Chiang Kai-shek and his C o m m u n i s t allies in their c o m m o n revolutionary struggle. T h e political contexts of Le Bleu du del are at least as highly charged: the year is 1934, we have several images of a recently t r i u m phant Nazism, and about half the novel takes place in Barcelona on the eve and day of a workers' insurrection. But while Malraux's characters are thoroughly committed revolutionaries or counterrevolutionaries, Bataille's protagonists—with the exception of the rather brutally satirized leftist w o m a n Lazare—seem either only remotely aware of the m o m e n tous events taking place around them or, in the case of the novel's central figure (and narrator) Troppmann, their political interests seem limited to a cynical observation of the political interests of others (especially those of the dirty, cadaverous virgin Lazare). Le Bleu du del appears to be a wholly personal account of what T r o p p m a n n calls the unhappiest period of his life, a year that coincidentally is one of great fascist and c o m m u n i s t unrest in Europe, whereas La Condition humaine is about people w h o s e most intimate consciousness of themselves seems almost indistinguishable f r o m their political passions. But just h o w political is Malraux's celebrated novel? Malraux gives us, several years before Sartre formulated the concept, an image of the irreproachably engage writer, of that historically conscious and responsible novelist capable of rescuing fiction f r o m what Sartre was to analyze as the corrupting essentialism of fiction f r o m Balzac to Mauriac. It is, h o w -

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ever, the anticommunist entrepreneur Ferral (anticommunist and ideologically the enemy of the novel's real heroes) w h o strikes the most Sartrian note in La Condition humaine: "action, action alone justifies life and satisfies the white man. What would we think if we were told of a painter w h o makes n o paintings? A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do. N o t h i n g else . . . I am m y roads." Gisors, the former teacher whose students have become c o m m u n i s t militants and w h o is the father of the novel's revolutionary hero Kyo, answers: " T h e roads had to be built," if not by Ferral, he implies, then by someone else, which would indicate that "a m a n " (a w o m a n too?— that's not certain) should be defined by something quite different f r o m his acts. 1 What we are is more p r o f o u n d — m o r e profoundly characteristic— than what we do. And what we are is a certain tension between what Malraux calls our fate and our will. Fatalite is the key w o r d in this presumably historical novel, and it seems to refer to the constraints to which being h u m a n subjects us. ' " A l l suffer,' [Gisors] thought, 'and each one suffers because he thinks. At b o t t o m , the mind conceives man only in the eternal, and the consciousness of life can be nothing but a n g u i s h ' " (335; 335). T h e most fundamental constraint is, then, temporal, and our inevitable, ineradicable anguish would be the result of a kind of dysfunctional inability to think time. This sense of an imposed fate s o m e h o w foreign to our nature, to the very terms of our thought, is so strong in Malraux that the fear of death seems almost to derive f r o m it rather than to determine it. " T h e essence of m a n , " Kyo remembers f r o m his father's teaching, "is anguish, the consciousness of his o w n fatality f r o m which all fears are born, even the fear of death" (148; 151). T h e anguish born of the idea of death would be merely the most dramatic manifestation of a m o r e pervasive and, we might say, m o r e abstract anxiety: that of a h u man consciousness structured to perceive h u m a n existence as constraint. T h u s Gisors' deceptively superficial definition of "the will to g o d - h e a d " as an "urge to compel" or constrain, as "l'envie de contraindre." Stronger than the desire to govern is "l'illusion du bon plaisir," the illusion of being able to do exactly as we please, and "the will to p o w e r " is defined, with considerable originality, as nothing more than the "intellectual justification"—a sublimated version—of a m o r e concrete c o m pulsion to constrain rather than to be constrained. To be immortal is not even mentioned in Gisors' definition of godhead; even that is a result of being able—as only God is able—to have one's o w n way. To constrain: that is the "visionary disease," the content of our dream of being God, the essence of what it means " t o be more than a man, in a world of men" (228; 229). All of this comes f r o m Gisors, and while it is true that he serves as

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Malraux's intellectual spokesman in the novel, it is also true that in his private world, dominated by opium, he is somewhat outside the main action of the novel. More surprisingly, Gisors' son Kyo, the militant hero of La Condition humaine, also explicitly subordinates his militancy to the most secret, ahistorical part of his being. ' " T o o t h e r s , ' " he thinks, Ί am what I have done.' To [his wife] May alone, he was not what he had done; to him alone, she was something altogether different f r o m her biography." What, where, is this "something altogether different?" In "the inescapable aloneness behind the living multitudes," there is a kind of absolute affirmation, "the affirmation of an idiot: an intensity greater than that of all the rest." It is at the center o f t h a t mad affirmation that lovers meet: " T h e embrace by which love holds beings together against solitude did not bring its relief to man; it brought relief only to the m a d man, to the incomparable monster, dear above all things (preferable a tout) that every being is to himself and that he cherishes in his heart" (53; 57). It is not the loved one, or even love itself, that is so dear; the incomparable and treasured monster is a relation entirely within the self, one that takes place in the depths of an inalterable solitude. And that cherished mad self can only be a senseless "absolute affirmation" against fate and against time. T h e tragic disproportion of which Gisors speaks nonetheless becomes, for the incomparable monster, an occasion of insane yet heroic self-affirmation. O n the one hand, nothing is more highly valued in La Condition humaine than the revolutionary c o m m i t m e n t for which Kyo is willing to die. Indeed, when he swallows cyanide in order to escape being t h r o w n alive into the boiler of a locomotive, his suicide can be j u d g e d as an "exalted act." " H e had fought for what in his time was charged with the deepest meaning and the greatest hope; he was dying a m o n g those with w h o m he would have wanted to live; he was dying, like each of these men, because he has given a meaning to his life" (304; 304). Where is the incomparable monster at this extraordinarily moving m o m e n t ? If we are to take seriously Gisors' contention that "the mind conceives man only in the eternal," then what are we to think of Kyo's intensely historical and c o m m u n a l consciousness just before he dies? Is he dying in the antechambers of his being? We may be stirred by the closeness he feels to the other condemned men around him; we may be impressed by his sense of having been an actor in the greatest adventure of his time. But h o w can history—even the noblest history—assuage an anxiety caused by what Malraux apparently considers the anomaly of our being b o r n into history? This could easily strike us as a false problem, for in fact Malraux does provide some answers to these questions. In La Condition humaine M a r x ism historicizes the metaphysical tension between fatality and will. Gi-

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sors and his son react to this tension in opposite ways. For Gisors, Marxism "is a fatality and [he] found [himself] in h a r m o n y with it because [his] fear of death was in h a r m o n y with fatality" (333; 332). Gisors reinterprets the Marxist confidence in the triumph of the proletariat and the advent of a classless society; he responds not to the extraordinary optimism of that belief, but to its implicit subordination of h u m a n will to what it posits as the necessity of certain historical processes. T h u s the most Utopian aspect of Marxist philosophy is paradoxically congenial to Gisors' temperamental pessimism. But it is precisely this reliance on historical necessity that exasperates Kyo. T h e question is by no means an academic one in La Condition humaine, since the decision about whether to break with Chiang Kai-shek is largely based on the emphasis given to historical fatality. T h e official line is that the party should go along with Chiang, that it can use him and that, as Vologuine tells Kyo, the revolution " b y its very nature . . . must become socialist. We must let it find its o w n way. O u r j o b is to safeguard its birth." It is, however, this role of historical midwife that Kyo rejects, and his strongest political argument is couched in terms of the novel's fundamental dualism: "In M a r x ism there is the sense of a fatality, and also the exaltation of a will. Every time fatality comes before will, I'm suspicious" (136; 139). In short, the strongest appeal of Marxism for Malraux's characters may lie in the historical intelligibility it appears to give to the very definition of their humanity. And even Kyo can respond to Marxism's relocation of fatality on the side of affirmation. For not only is the fatality liberating; the exercise of an exalted will in the service of that historical vision also allows Kyo to find a certain self-affirmation in the acceptance of his defeat. Curiously enough, the mad incomparable monster of affirmation w h o is wholly different f r o m the biographical Kyo coincides with Kyo's active acceptance of fatality when, at the end, his death itself is seen as the supreme—priceless, if in a sense useless, even mad—expression of his will. T h u s Malraux's impressive consistency. And yet: if Marxism historicizes a tension inherent in the very condition of being human, it is also what might be called a secondary option within that condition. It presents itself to Malraux's characters—as do all political c o m m i t m e n t s — a s a choice to be made, as a step into history that can be freely taken (and perhaps taken back). Nothing seems more natural, and most of us have been trained to admire writers w h o , like Malraux and Sartre, both m o r alize politics (it is a responsibility) and make it something of a luxury (it is a field in which to exercise our freedom). Surely nothing is further f r o m Malraux's intention than to make politics a luxury. Still the political is essentially irrelevant to his novel's most p r o f o u n d subject: "la condition humaine." T h u s Gisors, after his son's death, finds himself " t h r o w n

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outside of time," brought back to his atemporal h u m a n essence, an essence f r o m which life itself is merely a distraction: " H e felt the basic suffering trembling within him, not that which comes f r o m creatures or f r o m things, but that which gushes forth f r o m man himself and f r o m which life attempts to tear us away" (313-314; 314). And in thus being removed f r o m history, Gisors finds himself where his son in the heat of his revolutionary activism had always, deeply and secretly, been: in the realm of that incomparable monster about w h o m nothing biographical can be said. Whether one finds in that realm fundamental suffering or absolute affirmation is perhaps secondary to its positioning. It is f r o m there that one enters history—life itself—in Malraux, which means that, instead of being historically determined, h u m a n beings themselves determine the time, the nature, and one might even say (we could of course begin to speak of Malraux's different political careers here) the n u m b e r of their entrances into history. If history is lucky, so to speak, there will be certain analogies or "agreements" between the forms it takes and our perception of the h u m a n condition; but the most intensely lived political involvement is always a kind of superfluity or even degradation of being. We do not, that is, create the political immediately and continuously; we confront history—as if it existed apart f r o m us, as if its origins were not exactly human, as if it came to us like an alien object—and if we enter it, that very step confirms our tragic fate, the fate of a mind attuned to eternity but condemned to the constraints of life in time. T h e peculiar but entirely logical correlative of this inner distance f r o m history is the unintended psychologizing of the metaphysical. Malraux makes an important point of the difference between Kyo's activism and that of the terrorist Tchen. For Tchen, w h o discovers in the novel's famous opening scene the erotically irresistible horror of terroristic violence, the boundaries between politics, metaphysics, and sex are hopelessly blurred, and that is w h y he is doomed. Tchen remarks that he scorns those he kills less than "those w h o don't kill: the virgins" (my translation; 58; 62), and, in trying to explain to Kyo w h y he wouldn't want anyone else to organize Chiang's assassination, he says: "Because I don't like the w o m e n I love to be screwed by other men" (my translation; 149; 152). Because he uses the revolution to act out his sexual and metaphysical anxieties (the possession vertigineuse [151] of himself that he seeks in death is a kind of defiant embrace of fatality), Tchen is politically u n reliable and fundamentally expendable. T h e major fact about Kyo, on the other hand, is that he has earned the right to be in history. And this also means, as his father suggests in saying that for Kyo "individual problems existed . . . only in his private life," that Kyo has earned the right to a nonpsychological treatment. His revolutionary activity can

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have the simple authenticity of a struggle " t o give to each of those men w h o m famine, at this very m o m e n t , was killing off like a slow plague, the sense of his o w n dignity" (64; 68). But h o w valid is this distinction? First of all, the relation between the sexes in La Condition humaine is a psychological replay of the characters' metaphysical power struggle. Ferral, Tchen, and to a certain extent even Kyo seem to think of the woman's role in love as the sexual equivalent of being passively victimized by fate. Woman lends herself to being constrained, and in a sense she is an anomaly within the h u m a n condition. It is as if, within the intimacy of her jouissance, she renounces all struggle, all her will and freedom, all the mad but precious affirmation against fatality. Tchen is the most extreme example in the novel of male f u r y against this treacherous submission to " f a t e " — f u r y and also excitement. If w o m a n betrays her humanity by her humiliating acquiescence to constraints, she also allows man to play the role of fate, to drop his heroic if crushed protest and to become, momentarily, himself the crusher. In a sense, sexual excitement—for the man, at any rate—is inherently necrophilic; it consists in the vengeful and wildly stimulating power of having reduced the other to a nonresistant thing. Sex is always a kind of assassination (even if it is only a character assassination). In his angry jealousy over May's having gone to bed with another man, Kyo imagines the man as n o w thinking of her as "cette petite poule" (54), and assassination is inevitably associated with sex. Sexual desire is, then, another manifestation of the will to godhead that Gisors calls our "maladie chimerique." Especially with the light on (Ferral insists on this with his mistress Valerie), man can enjoy "l'illusion du bon plaisir," the double pleasure of "having his w a y " and, m o r e secretly, of imagining himself as being had by himself, of savoring his omnipotence by sharing the woman's helpless desire to be its victim. O r perhaps we should say that the "volonte de deite" is the coverup— the symptomatic sublimation—of Ferral's hermaphroditic fantasies and Tchen's association of sex with murder. But it is unnecessary to determine priorities here. The congruence between the sexual and the metaphysical in Malraux does not necessarily mean that the latter derives f r o m the former, although it is true that the intended transcendence of the historical risks being translated as a psychological origin of both the historical and the metaphysical itself. It is, at any rate, disturbing—at least f r o m the point of view of Malraux's obvious intentions—that a psychological language adequately covers both levels of being. Gisors' discourse on the "volonte de deite" and Tchen's necrophilic terrorism are both adequately covered—made perfectly intelligible—in a psychological discourse on constraints. What can it mean, then, to say that Kyo has earned the right to be in

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history and to be understood, by Malraux and the reader, in n o n p s y chological terms? Kyo's reasons for being in the revolution are as personal—or, more exactly, as nonpolitical—as Tchen's. T h e discourse on fatality in La Condition humaine sublimates a cruder discourse on the relation between the sexes; even without assigning priority to one or the other, we have to recognize that they both belong to the same fantasmatic network. In Malraux, man produces the sexual and the metaphysical, and this is to be expected; what is not to be expected—given Malraux's reputation—is h o w little he is inclined to produce the political. Political history in Malraux comes along, quite conveniently, to solve other p r o b lems. And the great illusion in this writer w h o has been thought of as providing us with the very model of political and historical fiction is that not only can we stand outside history but also that, whatever our political choices may be, we are, in the deepest part of our being, alienated f r o m and indifferent to those choices. In this book I have been arguing that, in a culture of redemption, sexuality and history are catastrophes that art has the task of repairing and redeeming. Reparative cultural symbolizations repeat those catastrophes in order to transcend them, which means that they scrupulously reenact the failures they are meant to make not happen. T h e m o o d produced by this intended spectralization of pervasive personal and historical failures is one of noble and eloquent melancholy, a m o o d c o m m o n to such different writers as Malraux and Proust. La Condition humaine (like L'Espoir) is the record of what Malraux clearly thought of as a historical disaster: Chiang Kai-shek's elimination of his C o m m u n i s t allies and the consequent loss of any socially revolutionary gains f r o m the civil war in China. And yet this disaster seems to matter less than its symbolic transfiguration. T h e novel's coda is a comparatively somber scene between Gisors and May m o n t h s after Kyo's death; its climax, however, is Malraux's exalted account of that death. It is not that Malraux's art simply cancels out the suffering of his revolutionary heroes or the historical tragedy of which they are the victims. Indeed Malraux appears to reject any such use of art to deny suffering in his somewhat ambiguous presentation of the Japanese painter Kama, for w h o m "Everything is a symbol. To go f r o m the symbol to the things symbolized is to explore the depth and meaning of the world, it is to seek G o d " (187; 190). In this aesthetic, art discovers truth or essences, and this transcendence of the phenomenal, the transformation of things into signs, is, as Clappique sees, a negation of the reality of pain. But, precisely, this insight comes f r o m Clappique, a character defined as a sort of clown and, as we k n o w m o r e conclusively f r o m Malraux's books on painting and sculpture, it is not the final w o r d on art as a denial of death. Furthermore, Gisors at the end returns to Japan and takes refuge in Kama's home, where—again somewhat ambi-

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guously—he associates his host's art with the dissipating of h u m a n suffering in the evening light: " H u m a n i t y was dense and heavy, heavy with flesh, with blood, with suffering, eternally clinging to itself like all that dies; but even blood, even flesh, even suffering, even death was being absorbed up here in the light like music in the silent n i g h t " (336; 336). Malraux's complicity with Gisors' m o o d can be detected perhaps less in the eloquent rhythms of this sentence than in a certain stylistic appeasement t h r o u g h o u t the novel of the conflicts and the suffering that are its subjects. I am thinking of all those pauses, or dead moments, when Malraux gives us sensitive descriptions of the city fog, or of the strange mixture of a cricket's "tremulous c r y " and "the last vibrations of the shadows" on the faces of a group of men (13; 18-19), and especially of all the "interesting" patterns of reflected light on people and on the city's surfaces. Several awkwardly, self-consciously poetic passages create a kind of compositional quietism at odds with the historical turbulence being recorded, and with the characters' sense of urgency, as if in art that turbulence can be absorbed, made to disappear, just as the signs or s y m bols of pain disappear in Kama's approfondissement of their sense. In the climactic scene of Kyo's and Katow's deaths, Malraux explicitly looks forward to the redemption of their suffering in the legends that will spring up about them: " A death saturated with this brotherly quavering, an assembly of the vanquished in which multitudes would recognize their martyrs, a bloody legend of which the golden legends are made!" (304; 304). In the admittedly attenuated legend-making genre of modern fiction, it is of course La Condition humaine itself that seeks to perform the transfiguration f r o m bloody to golden legend. Malraux's exalted recit approves and consecrates that dismissal of history implicit in his militant heroes' refusal to be defined by their heroic militancy. Revolutionary struggle is the contingency, the constraint, in short the fatality against which Malraux's art struggles. La Condition humaine, thereby illustrating Gisors' account of the h u m a n mind, seems unable to think history except as a fall—albeit a redeemable fall—from eternity. *

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C o m p a r e d to the g r o w n - u p seriousness of Malraux's book, Le Bleu du del can easily appear trivial and adolescent. During the unhappy year he writes about, t w o very different w o m e n played important roles in the narrator Troppmann's life: the rich, beautiful, apolitical Dirty (short for Dorothea), whose astonishing excesses seem to have plunged T r o p p mann into a kind of anguished ecstasy (the novel's introduction is an account of her drinking, belching, vomiting, passing air, water and stools in a luxurious r o o m at the Savoy in London); and the ugly, revolutionary virgin Lazare. It would be difficult to speak of any of these

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figures as novelistic characters in a traditional sense or of the w o r k itself as having a plot. T r o p p m a n n ' s constantly reiterated unhappiness is m a n i fested in Herculean b o u t s of drinking, crying, and v o m i t i n g , and in an illness f r o m w h i c h apparently he nearly died. T r o p p m a n n ' s language is unrelentingly excessive (he is always referring to himself as in a state of nausea and vertigo, as e m p t y , lost, beside h i m s e l f ) , b u t n o n e of these states is reduced to psychological intelligibility, and Le Bleu du del m a i n tains a kind of p o r t e n t o u s and aristocratic vagueness a b o u t the excesses it describes. ( O f the time he spent w i t h D i r t y in L o n d o n , for example, T r o p p m a n n writes: " D r u n k e n n e s s had c o m m i t t e d us to dereliction, in pursuit of s o m e g r i m response to the g r i m m e s t of c o m p u l s i o n s . " ) 2 T h e gravity of all this anguish is at once emphasized and m a d e s o m e w h a t d o u b t f u l by T r o p p m a n n ' s clownish D o n J u a n i s m , practiced even on his deathbed and including considerable boasting about his necrophilic tastes (tastes finally satisfied w h e n he is cured of his i m p o t e n c e w i t h D i r t y by rolling naked w i t h her in the m u d d y soil near a cemetery, a position that allows h i m to equate entering her b o d y w i t h penetrating a freshly d u g grave). E v e r y t h i n g is anguish and excess, but anguish and excess are themselves s o m e t h i n g of a j o k e , as are the novel's defiant references to the D o n J u a n legend and especially to the don's p u n i s h m e n t — a n irresistible and obsessive j o k e nonetheless, relegating the historical contexts of Le Bleu du del to the margins of the characters' frenzied self-absorption. In short, Bataille's novel appears to be continuously flaunting its indifference to the realistic seriousness that La Condition humaine so s c r u p u lously respects. So it is all the m o r e unexpected and significant that Bataille, in his 1957 f o r e w o r d to the novel, announces w h a t m i g h t seem to be a c o m m i t m e n t to the high seriousness of literature. " T o a greater or lesser extent, everyone depends on stories (recits), on novels, to discover the manifold t r u t h of life." B u t if these recits have the u n i q u e privilege of " c o n f r o n t i n g a person w i t h his f a t e , " the truth they reveal is a p p a r ently compatible w i t h a certain failure of attention on the reader's part and, even m o r e unexpectedly, w i t h a certain failure of control o n the writer's part. T h e novels m o s t i m p o r t a n t to us are "read s o m e t i m e s in a trance," and "a story that reveals the possibilities of life is n o t necessarily an appeal b u t it does appeal to a m o m e n t of f u r y (le recit qui revele les possibilities de la vie n'appellepas forcement, mais il appelle un moment de rage) w i t h o u t w h i c h its a u t h o r w o u l d remain blind to those possibilities, w h i c h are those of excess." " A n anguish to w h i c h I was p r e y " was, B a taille remembers, at the b o t t o m of the "freakish anomalies" of Le Bleu du del, which, w e are told, he w r o t e in 1935, put aside and m o r e or less f o r g o t , and finally published in 1957 at the insistence of friends "affected (emus) by a reading of the m a n u s c r i p t . " A n d while Bataille is quick to point out that he is far f r o m considering such anguish as a sufficient g u a r -

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antee of the novel's value, his creative disarray naturally evokes that " m o ment of f u r y " or, as he also calls it, the "intolerable, impossible ordeal" that "can give an author the means of achieving that wide-ranging vision that readers weary of the narrow limitations imposed by convention are waiting f o r " (153-155; 381-382). There is, then, a creative corollary to Troppmann's frantic anxieties. Bataille takes the trouble to invent a fictional narrator at the same time that, when he finally decides to publish the novel, he remembers himself writing Le Bleu du del in terms that can also describe his hero: " U n tourment . . . me ravageait." This does not mean that Bataille "is" Troppmann, but it does alert us to the author's compositional complicity with his narrator. That is, we find no attempt to provide a controlling perspective on Troppmann's perspective, to suggest that the material is being organized by anyone else. There is, first of all, the novel's lopsided structure. T h e five pages describing Dirty's antics at the Savoy are called an introduction, and what is apparently the novel proper is divided into two parts. 3 But part one, which is entirely italicized, takes up a page and a half, while part two, nearly one hundred pages long, is divided into five sections, each of which has its o w n title and is itself divided into chapters. We might call this a spurting-motor structure: after what could seem like a couple of false starts, Troppmann's recit goes on without any important structural interruptions. T h e narrative m o d e of the introduction—a scene with identifiable characters—will be picked up again in part two, in the body of the novel, while part one, written by an unidentified "je" (Troppmann? Bataille?), is a kind of lyrical interlude—which might have been an epilogue or even an introduction. T h e narrator begins by announcing the imminence of his dishonorable but desired death, then relates a terrifying visit f r o m the C o m m a n d e r (of the D o n Juan legend) after which, condemned to solitude but moved by a "blind anger," he asserts that he would invite the old man again, and this time it would be the Commander's corpse that would be carried off, and finally, moved by an insolence that has "blinded and transfigured [him] with a happiness that defies all reason," ends with the exclamation: "I have prevailed! (Je triomphe! J" (24; 395-396). We should be less interested in determining what these shifts of m o o d might m e a n — o r even in fully exploiting the references to the D o n Juan legend—than in registering the effects of Bataille's extraordinarily m o bile juxtapositions. T h e page and a half that constitutes part one, by being called part one, carries an e n o r m o u s structural weight: it is as if those few lines were in some way as important as the subsequent ninety pages or so of part two. It is, however, difficult to say exactly what that i m portance consists of. T h e differences in narrative m o d e between parts one and t w o are partially undermined by a couple of anecdotal references in

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part one: "Today, I am overjoyed at being an object of horror and repugnance to the one being I am b o u n d t o , " and the narrator insists twice that the Commander's visit "really" took place, " n o t in any nightmare . . . not in any d r e a m . " T h e elements of a whole new story are evoked in the first of these remarks, and the Commander's visit is treated as if it had the same sort of reality as the scene in the Savoy or the lovemaking above the cemetcry outside Trier in the Moselle valley. And yet the story is never told (who is that other person for w h o m the narrator has become "an object of horror and repugnance?"), and the C o m m a n d e r ' s visit, which took place in the middle of the night (there was, incidentally, a "second v i c t i m " — w h o ? — l y i n g next to the narrator that night; "the u t ter repugnance on her lips made them resemble the lips of a certain dead w o m a n . From them dribbled something more dreadful than blood"), obviously resembles a dream more than a real event (23-24; 395). Dreams play an important role in part two, and they are identified as such. For all Troppmann's frantic confusion, he keeps the boundaries between dreaming and waking life perfectly clear; Le Bleu du del has n o surrealist blurring of those boundaries, n o poetic derealizing of objects and people so that, as in a dream, they appear as mere extensions of the subject's anxieties and desires. And yet part one, mysteriously and p r o vokingly, seems to violate that distinction, even t h o u g h it does so in a particularly hard-nosed way with, again, none of the surrealist's t r e m bling doubt about states of being: here is a supernatural event that " r e ally," "really" took place. T h e more we talk about Part One, the less we are able to make sense of it. The easy way out would be to settle for a reading that sees this italicized interlude (which is also structurally half of the novel) as the main indicator of a thematic center: the subversion of the legendary use of the Commander-Father as a punishment for D o n Juan's erotic sins. In Le Bleu du del T r o p p m a n n will perhaps defeat the C o m m a n d e r by bringing sex to the cemetery, by insisting that sex is sustained by death. Interesting as this might be (and important as it would be in a discussion of Bataille's w o r k on eroticism), 4 Bataille's reworking of the D o n Juan legend is not enough to account for the renewal of the novel that, in the introduction, he speaks of as the object of passionate pursuit. F r o m this perspective, what is perhaps most disorienting—and most original— about part one is the presence of a certain number of notations that distract us f r o m the thematically central assertions of the narrator's insolent triumph over the C o m m a n d e r . The references to a "second victim," as well as to "the one being I am b o u n d t o , " in addition to the perverse insistence on the reality of the Commander's visit (and the consequent shift of the recit to the level of a literal supernaturalism)—all of this goes beyond what we might take to be the passage's thematic function. And

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t h r o u g h that lack of p r o p o r t i o n , Bataille appears to be c o n f i r m i n g the analogy, or even the identity, between T r o p p m a n n ' s disarray and the a n guish in w h i c h he, Bataille, w r o t e Le Bleu du del. H e is arguing, f r o m the very start, for an abdication of the novelist's mastery over his material. It is n o t only T r o p p m a n n w h o is frenetically restless; Le Bleu du del has trouble settling on its o w n sense, and this is largely h o w it revolutionizes the practice of w r i t i n g novels. Bataille is one of the first writers to reject the great m o d e r n i s t project of a d o m i n a t i o n of life t h r o u g h art. In its m o s t e x t r e m e f o r m (in Proust, Joyce, and the Mallarmean i m a g e of the Book), the culture of r e d e m p t i o n d r e a m s of the erasure of history in art t h r o u g h a massive, encyclopedic, and transfiguring absorption of history into the artist's w o r k . T h e m o d ernist project frequently includes the seeds of its o w n u n d o i n g ; b u t o n the w h o l e Ulysses and A la Recherche du temps perdu have little patience for structurally unassimilated material or false starts. T h e y seek to e x clude the kind of repetition that makes visible within the w o r k itself the actual process of w o r k i n g , the discovery of sense as a succession of always threatened, always local achievements. In this respect, Bataille's predecessor is D . H . Lawrence, for w h o m art was also a t o r m e n t e d e n counter w i t h sense rather than the occasion for repudiating experience by m o n u m e n t a l i z i n g its meanings. In his f o r e w o r d to Women in Love Lawrence w r o t e that the " s t r u g g l e for verbal consciousness should n o t be left out in art. It is a very great part of life. It is n o s u p e r i m p o s i t i o n of a theory. It is the passionate struggle into conscious b e i n g " — t h e sign, in art, of the writer's struggling " w i t h his u n b o r n needs and f u l f i l l m e n t , " w i t h the " n e w u n f o l d i n g s " struggling u p "in t o r m e n t in h i m , as b u d s struggle forth f r o m the m i d s t of a p l a n t . " 5 T h e Lawrentian s t r u g g l e — t h e w o r d is repeated five times in the short paragraph I've been q u o t i n g f r o m — i s perhaps not too far f r o m that "intolerable, impossible o r d e a l " w i t h o u t which, for Bataille, n o " w i d e - r a n g i n g vision" can be achieved. M o s t i m p o r t a n t , for Lawrence and Bataille, these struggles and ordeals are m a d e visible in the very w o r k of their writing, w i t h the result that their fiction is compelled to abdicate any authority for resolving the dil e m m a s it poses, any superior point of view that could j u s t i f y a b r o a d e r cultural claim for art as a vehicle of truth. " H o w , " Bataille asks in the f o r e w o r d to Le Bleu du del, "can w e linger over b o o k s to w h i c h their authors have manifestly n o t been driven? (des livres auxquels, sensiblement, I'auteur n'a pas ete contraint?)" (153; 381.) T h e emphasized w o r d brings us back to Malraux, w i t h the significant difference that an unacceptable if inevitable insult to h u m a n f r e e d o m has b e c o m e an indispensable creative principle. Fatality and will: it is as if Le Bleu du del took u p the central dualism of La Condition humaine in order to reverse the value attributed to each t e r m . W h a t I have called Bataille's

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compositional complicity with T r o p p m a n n is a way of suggesting that a certain type of corrective will cannot operate in this novel. C o m p a r e this to Proust, in w h o m the reparative intention is inscribed in the narrative point of view. At every m o m e n t in La Recherche we are to be aware of the gap separating Marcel's experience in the past f r o m the redemptive alchemy to which that experience is n o w being submitted. And in w o r k s by Henry James, Gide, and Mann, the corrective intention becomes the novel's hidden subject. (What does James want us to think of the Governess in The Turn of the Screw? Can we trust Jerome's account of his attachment to Alissa in La Porte etroite? To what extent does M a n n share Serenus Zeitblom's perspective on Leverkühn in Doctor Faustus?) In its most pedagogical manifestations, the culture of redemption produces epistemological detective stories, stories that incite us to a kind of critical gymnastics in the discovery of truth, that force the reader to p e r f o r m the central operation of art—the operation of corrective vision. In Le Bleu du del no provision is made for the reader (or the author) to k n o w more than T r o p p m a n n knows. T h e novel is written—as T r o p p mann's life is lived—under a kind of constraint, which means that it has to be performed before a technique for dominating its sense has been worked out. Another way of expressing this would be to say that the novel is somewhat like a dream. Since we are encouraged to make this connection by the detailed accounts T r o p p m a n n gives us of several of his dreams, it is all the more important to get the terms of that connection right. If T r o p p m a n n himself often seems to have the impression of "walking around in a d r e a m , " his narrative is anything but dreamlike. H e gives us precise, matter-of-fact descriptions of both his waking life and his dreams, with the result that the material reality of the former is never dissipated and the interest of the latter is never merely atmospheric. N o r is it ever suggested that dreams give us the key to the significance of things—that they either reveal Troppmann's depths or provide symbolic condensations of the novel's historical contexts. Rather, dreams offer a particularly striking model of the mobility of inaccurate replications; in dreams, identities continuously repeat themselves in different forms. Thus in the dream in which T r o p p m a n n finds himself, with several other people, in front of a coffin placed on a "four-poster canopy b e d — a kind of wheelless hearse," the corpse revealed when the coffin's plank slides off and disappears "like a theater curtain or the lid of a chess set," goes through several metamorphoses: it is at first a pink wax figure resembling a wax doll (with its feet cut o f f ) which T r o p p m a n n had seen in a nightclub a couple of nights before, then becomes a giant marble corpse with an immense mare's skull for a head (covered with a military helmet), a fishbone (or an e n o r m o u s half-toothless jawbone) for a body, and the footless "long, gnarled stumps of a horse's legs," then a frantically agi-

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tated statue of Minerva "in g o w n and a r m o r , erect and aggressive b e neath her h e l m e t , " w h o rushes t o w a r d T r o p p m a n n to attack h i m w i t h her whirling " m a r b l e scimitar." "I quickly g r a s p e d , " T r o p p m a n n writes, "that, in this d r e a m , D i r t y ( n o w b o t h insane and dead) had assumed the garb and likeness of the Commendatore. In this unrecognizable guise, she was rushing at m e in order to annihilate m e " ( 5 5 - 5 7 ; 4 1 8 - 4 2 0 ) . B u t this interpretation, far f r o m reducing the d r e a m to a single meaning, destabilizes it even m o r e . T r o p p m a n n has merely added t w o m o r e t e r m s — D i r t y and the C o m m a n d e r — t o an already fantastically i n c o n g r u o u s equation: the w a x doll is an animal marble corpse, is a statue of the R o m a n goddess of w i s d o m , is Dirty, is the C o m m a n d e r . It w o u l d be absurd to say that D i r t y is the underlying t e r m of all these equivalences, except in the sense that D i r t y herself is precisely this sort of h o r r i f y i n g b u t t a n talizing succession of discontinuous identities. T h e dream's incoherence is in n o way reduced by T r o p p m a n n ' s brief explanation; instead it is D i r t y herself w h o is illuminated by that incoherence. H e r m o n s t r o u s excess, her inability to stop t h r o w i n g u p her being, is figured in the d r e a m b y its defiance of the discontinuities it theatrically p e r f o r m s . In w h a t T r o p p m a n n calls her limitless avidity, w h i c h is identical to a limitless p o u r i n g out of her self, D i r t y sullies the distinctness of her humanity, as if she were seeking to spend herself into death or transgress the b o u n d a ries of her species. T h e night before D i r t y arrives in Barcelona, T r o p p m a n n , standing u n der a starry sky on a city street, has an epiphanous experience that gives to the novel (and to the section in w h i c h the experience is related) its name. First he is again a child, waiting u n d e r this foreign sky for " f o r s o m e u n k n o w n , impossible e v e n t . " T h e n he thinks that he has to wait until t w o in the afternoon, w h e n Dirty's plane is scheduled to arrive. " D e u x h e u r e s " leads to another m e m o r y : I remembered: it was about two in the afternoon, beneath a brilliant Paris sun, and I was standing on the Pont du Carrousel, when I saw a butcher's van drive past. The headless necks of flayed lambs protruded from canvas coverings; the butchers' blue-and-white striped smocks were spotlessly clean; the van was slowly moving forward in open sunlight. When I was a boy, I loved the sun; I used to shut my eyes and let it shine redly through my lids. The sun was fantastic—it evoked dreams of explosion. Was there anything more sunlike than red blood running over cobblestones, as though light could shatter and kill? Now, in this thick darkness, I'd made myself drunk with light; and so, once again, Lazare in my eyes was merely a bird of ill omen; a dirty, trivial bird. My eyes were no longer lost among the stars that were shining above me actually, but in the blue of the noon sky. I shut them so as to lose myself in that bright blueness. From it, fat black insects spouted forth in buzzing swarms: just as, next day, there would

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emerge at the blazing high point of the day, at first as an imperceptible speck, the plane that was bringing Dorothea . . . I opened my eyes. The stars were still covering my head, but I was maddened with sunlight. I felt like laughing: next day, that plane, too small and distant to attenuate the sky's blaze even minimally, would appear to me in the likeness of a noisy bug; it would be harboring Dirty's preposterous fantasies inside its glassedin cage; and as I stood there on the ground, it would, to my tiny human mind—at a moment when pain would be rending deeper than habit within her—assume the aspect of an impossible, adorable "outhouse fly."—So I had laughed, and it was no longer merely the gloomy boy with his cruel pen who was walking through the night hugging the walls: I had laughed the same laugh as a child, convinced that one day, since such a lucky insolence was sustaining me, it was I who was bound to turn the world upside down—turn the world, quite ineluctably, upside down. (107-108; 454-455). This passage is, w e m i g h t say, p r u d e n t l y non-hallucinatory. M e m o r i e s are clearly distinguished f r o m perceptions. T r o p p m a n n never forgets that D i r t y won't arrive until the next day, and a l t h o u g h he asserts that his eyes were lost "in the blue of the n o o n s k y , " that "in this thick darkness, I'd m a d e myself d r u n k w i t h l i g h t , " he r e m i n d s us twice of the real h o u r and the real setting ("the stars that were shining above m e actually," " t h e stars were still covering m y head"). A n d yet, t h o u g h the distinction b e tween w a k i n g and sleeping is never lost, w e m o v e a m o n g seemingly i n c o n g r u o u s identities w i t h the same ease as in the d r e a m of the m u l t i p l e identity corpse. T h e man becomes the boy, night becomes day, the stars are replaced by the sun. A n d the sun is blood; its light is explosive, m u r derous, evoking the b u t c h e r y of animals and b l o o d flowing o n a pavem e n t . But s o m e t h i n g less sinister and m o r e fanciful is also in that blue sky: fat black insects appearing in T r o p p m a n n ' s closed eyes j u s t as Dirty's plane will appear the next day in the sky above Barcelona. Finally, b e cause the plane will be carrying the suffering Dirty's " p r e p o s t e r o u s d r e a m s " ("reves d e m u s u r e s " ) , T r o p p m a n n k n o w s that it will appear to h i m as "an impossible, adorable ' o u t h o u s e fly.'" A certain unity is given to these disparate m e m o r i e s and impressions by T r o p p m a n n ' s happily insolent and conquering l a u g h — a s if the anticipation of that adorable o u t h o u s e fly gives h i m the strength to k n o c k everything over. Such, then, is Dirty's m o s t exhilarating m e t a m o r p h o s i s : wildly d r e a m ing and suffering even m o r e deeply than usual within the belly o f a toilet fly. In a sense it is D i r t y w h o is the butchered animal of Le Bleu du del, the sacrificial victim of T r o p p m a n n ' s , and Bataille's, d r e a m s of a stupefying excess, of a self-expenditure of unimaginable psychic waste, e x ploding the limits of the spent self. Like the lambs in T r o p p m a n n ' s m e m o r y , D i r t y has lost her head, the features that m i g h t m a k e her reli-

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ably identifiable. M u c h m o r e than Malraux's sensitive souls, it is she w h o deserves to be called the " i n c o m p a r a b l e m o n s t e r " : m o n s t r o u s in the way she lets her self go, incomparable by virtue of the fact that w e can't locate her l o n g e n o u g h to m a k e of her a t e r m of c o m p a r i s o n . D i r t y is the lost focal p o i n t of Le Bleu du ciel's violence, a violence t h a t — a n d n o w w e approach the elusive but p r o f o u n d political dimensions of Le Bleu du del—may distill N a z i s m . *

*

*

I first characterized D i r t y as apparently apolitical. B u t if, unlike Lazare, she s h o w s n o signs of a political c o m m i t m e n t , in another sense she can't help being as political as her sister in dirty-ness. In Bataille, the political (like the sexual) is n o t a choice; it is constitutive of the h u m a n . T h e closest D i r t y comes to a political statement is w h e n , in the train between C o b l e n z and Frankfort, she admits to T r o p p m a n n that "I s o m e t i m e s wish there w o u l d be a w a r , " and that she has the fantasy of a n n o u n c i n g b o t h the advent of war and the death of his children to "a really nice m a n . " She comes to the m a n wearing a black dress and w h e n she leaves h i m , "There's a p u d d l e of b l o o d w h e r e I've been s t a n d i n g . " " W h a t a b o u t y o u ? " T r o p p m a n n asks: Her breath issued from her like a moan, as if she were suddenly beseeching: "I love you." She pressed her cool mouth against mine. I was in a state of intolerable joy. When her tongue licked mine, it was so wonderful I might have wished my life over. In my arms (she had taken off her coat), Dirty was in a bright red silk dress—the red of swastikaed flags. Her body was naked under the dress. She smelled of wet earth. (147-148; 484) It is impossible to separate the excitements and anxieties of the sexual f r o m those of the political. This does n o t mean, as it does in the case of Tchen, that the political is derived f r o m the sexual, o r that public c o m m i t m e n t is merely a cover for private anxiety. For M a l r a u x , the possibility of d e m y s t i f y i n g a political c o m m i t m e n t depends on a belief in the possibility of being "authentically" political, in a relation to history u n contaminated b y the sexual. Bataille suggests that the political is always related to the sexual, but their interconnectedness implies n o priority on one side or the other. Politics cannot be reduced to sex because neither is imagined as ever being independent of desiring energies, of a f u n d a m e n tally erotic (but n o t necessarily specifically sexual) self-expenditure. O u r historicity is part of o u r fatality and n o t — a s it is for M a l r a u x — a possible transcendence of fate. It is as if h u m a n life were a kind of c o n t i n u u m in w h i c h T r o p p m a n n and D i r t y having sex above a cemetery repeats b o t h

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something as private as Troppmann's dream, elsewhere in the novel, o f everything he has loved in his life rising like a cemetery that is also a brothel ("The funereal marble was alive. In s o m e places it had hair o n it" [76; 433]), and something as public as Dollfuss' assassination in Vienna and the workers' uprising in Barcelona. I realize h o w difficult it is to imagine in what way such disparate events can be said to repeat one another if their relations are not derivative. What is being repeated is not s o m e transcendental nature; instead w e should think o f various expenditures o f energy shaped by the materials available in each spending occasion. In Dirty w e see war emerging as a possible consequence o f the anguished desire to live beyond oneself. In war, that w i s h crystallizes as the monstrous appetite for a c o m m u n i t y o f blood, for bodies shattered in a m o v e m e n t o f universal destruction. T h e principal question raised by Le Bleu du del is h o w to control the historical precipitates o f that desire without denying our inescapable implication in the passion for violence. O n the last page o f the novel, just after Dirty leaves h i m in Frankfurt and before the departure o f his o w n train, Troppmann listens to an orchestra o f Nazi children playing on the steps o f a theater in a large square near the railway station: They were playing with such ferocity, with so strident a beat, that I stood breathless in front of them. Nothing could have been more abrupt than the beating of the side drums, or more caustic than the fifes. As they faced the vast, empty, rain-drenched square and played for occasional passersby, all the Nazi boys (some of them were blonde, with doll-like faces) seemed, in their sticklike stiffness, to be possessed by some cataclysmic exultation. In front of them, their leader—a degenerately skinny kid with the sulky face of a fish—kept time with a long drum major's stick. He held this stick obscenely erect, with the knob at his crotch, it then looked like a monstrous monkey's penis that had been decorated with braids of colored cord. Like a dirty little brute, he would then jerk the stick level with his mouth; from crotch to mouth, from mouth to crotch, each rise and fall jerking to a grinding salvo from the drums. The sight was obscene. It was terrifying—if I hadn't been blessed with exceptional composure, how could I have stood and looked at these hateful automatons as calmly as if I were facing a stone wall? Each peal of music in the night was an incantatory summons to war and murder. The drum rolls were raised to their paroxysm in the expectation of an ultimate release in bloody salvos of artillery. I looked into the distance . . . a children's army in battle order. They were motionless, nonetheless, but in a trance. I saw them, so near me, entranced by a longing to meet their death, hallucinated by the endless fields where they would one day advance, laughing in the sunlight, leaving the dead and the dying behind them. (151; 486-487.) It is tempting to emphasize the signs o f Troppmann's revulsion in this description: the children are "stiff as sticks," their leader is "a degener-

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ately skinny kid w i t h the sulky face of a f i s h , " he is "a dirty little b r u t e " and conducts the music as if he were a m o n k e y p e r f o r m i n g fellatio on his o w n e n o r m o u s penis. T h e spectacle is " o b s c e n e " and " t e r r i f y i n g , " and all these "hateful a u t o m a t o n s " seem to be playing a h y m n to war and m u r d e r . But this w o u l d be a partial reading of the passage. We are far f r o m the childlike vulnerability of Dirty, and yet this final scene o b v i ously has a symmetrical relation to the novel's i n t r o d u c t o r y scene, in w h i c h w e had seen a d r u n k e n and convulsed D i r t y first in a L o n d o n dive squeezing her naked thighs and biting on a dirty curtain and then letting herself g o on a chair in her r o o m at the Savoy: " W h i l e the urine was gathering into a p u d d l e that spread over the carpet, a noise of slackening bowels m a d e itself p o n d e r o u s l y evident beneath the y o u n g w o m a n ' s dress—beet-red, her eyes twisted u p w a r d s , she was s q u i r m i n g o n her chair like a pig u n d e r the k n i f e " (17; 389). We begin w i t h a pig and end w i t h a m o n k e y ; this sliding f r o m the h u m a n to the animal is b y n o means necessarily m e a n t to inspire revulsion, and Dirty's m e t a m o r p h o s i s in the first scene even gives rise to a "feeling of p u r i t y " in T r o p p m a n n , to the desire to t h r o w himself at Dirty's feet in fearful w o r s h i p of so m u c h " c a n d o r " (14; 387). T h e r e is also the "exaltation" of those obscene children ( T r o p p m a n n first describes their music as "magnificent, ear-rending in its exaltation") and their hallucinated anticipation of the endless fields w h e r e , " l a u g h i n g in the s u n l i g h t , " they w o u l d leave " t h e dead and the dying behind t h e m . " As w e have seen, the sun has already been associated w i t h violence and death, b u t by n o means in a negative way: in the "bleu du ciel" passage, the sun makes T r o p p m a n n d r u n k w i t h a h a p p y insolence, the insolence of a conqueror, of s o m e o n e w h o w o u l d " t u r n the w o r l d quite ineluctably upside d o w n . " Dirty, harbinger of death and adorable toilet fly, w o u l d appear in the sun-drenched sky over Barcelona the next day. In the earlier passage, the sun was already " t e r r i b l e , " reminiscent of an explosion; " w a s there a n y t h i n g m o r e sunlike," T r o p p m a n n had asked, " t h a n red blood r u n n i n g over cobblestones as t h o u g h light could shatter and kill?" It is difficult n o t to feel that those obscene little Nazis at the end p r o f i t f r o m such associations. Indeed, immediately after his description of their orchestra T r o p p m a n n calls this "rising tide of m u r d e r far m o r e incisive (acidique) than life," and he parenthetically adds: "Because life is n o t as resplendent w i t h b l o o d as d e a t h " (my translation; 151; 487). O n e m i g h t almost say that the sun-child D i r t y (referred to earlier as a "sunlike skeleton") engenders Hitler's m u r d e r o u s children; and to laugh in the blue of n o o n is the exalted privilege of the m u r d e r e r s , of those w h o can overturn everything and w h o , like T r o p p m a n n , k n o w that death has m o r e l i g h t — t h e b l o o d - r e d light that also illuminates Dirty's dress and the Nazi flag—than life.

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The function of art, Bataille seems to suggest, is not to take a stand against this monstrosity with the noble detachment of a Malraux-like engagement, but rather to insist, even somewhat nastily, that we can't avoid being implicated in it. T h e courageous self-sacrifices of Malraux's heroes—sacrifices made in the name of h u m a n dignity—are perhaps tragic self-deceptions if they are not accompanied by the recognition of our complicity in abjection, a complicity that Kyo, interestingly enough, both recognizes and repudiates in what he calls his dependence on the fascinated horror he feels at a prison guard's sadistic cruelty toward an insane fellow prisoner. It is this "loathsome part" of himself that, " w i t h a joy whose violence surprised h i m , " he leaves behind when he goes to the apotheosis of his legend-inspiring death. N o such epic-inspiring shedding of abjection and violence is possible in Le Bleu du del. For Bataille, a false perspective on Nazism gives an account of it solely in terms of other political events, in terms of historical antecedents and contexts, cut off f r o m the desiring energies that produced it. Nazism is thus reified and enjoys the enormous prestige of a historical " o b j e c t " that s o m e h o w sets itself against an antithetical, overwhelmed, and yet to a certain extent heroic human will. In its avoidance of this reifying seriousness about History and Politics, Bataille's art of vertiginous replications is designed to make us feel that we are already everywhere in history, and that an ethos of political engagement is grounded in the illusion that we have not produced the violence against which we struggle. There are no images of any such struggle in Le Bleu du del. I would nonetheless argue against what has seemed to some readers a highly disturbing conclusion about the novel's political sympathies, and I make this argument on the basis of the very repetitions that allow Nazism to benefit f r o m the exaltation of solar violence. If Le Bleu du del is one of the books that, as Bataille says of those novels that reveal "the manifold truth of life," are "read sometimes in a trance," it is perhaps because of the destabilizing and destructuralizing effect of its repetitions. Certain words and objects continuously reappear. We have just seen some of the reappearances of the solarity motif: in the fantasies of conquest that T r o p p m a n n projects on the Nazi children, in the "bleu du d e l " passage (where the sun shines on the butcher's van, as well as in the Barcelona night sky where it eclipses the stars, and in the afternoon sky in which Dirty's plane will arrive the next day), in the description of Dirty as a "sunlike skelet o n " — t o which might be added the "insolent l o o k , " the "sunlike l o o k , " of the beggar w h o stares at T r o p p m a n n on a sun-drenched street in Barcelona (126; 468). T h e most prominent object in the novel is the black banner hanging over a Vienna street in honor of Dollfuss' death, which "becomes" the dark rug t h r o w n f r o m the floor above outside the w i n d o w of Troppmann's sickroom in Paris, and both of which make him

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think of the C o m m a n d e r and specifically of the black tablecloth spread on D o n Juan's and the C o m m a n d e r ' s supper table. I could also m e n t i o n the doll series: the b r o k e n w a x doll in the Paris nightclub, its reappearances in T r o p p m a n n ' s multiple-identity corpse d r e a m and in the description of the Nazi children as " b l o n d e , w i t h doll-like faces." B u t the m o s t interesting point to be m a d e a b o u t these repetitions is that they obscure the sense of a m o t i f in the very process of appearing to constitute one. Criticism has generally used repetition as a guide to sense-making patterns. T h e critical search for deep s t r u c t u r e s — w h e t h e r the particular approach be thematic, phenomenological, psychoanalytic, or Marxist—relies on w h a t it assumes to be n e t w o r k s of intelligibility created by various types of recurrence in the literary w o r k . Bataille d e feats such critical intentions b y suggesting that repetition is at once inevitable and aleatory. Terms will always recur, b u t their recurrence produces w h a t m i g h t be called nonstructurable continuities. T h e C o m mander's d e a t h - a n n o u n c i n g black tablecloth s h o w s u p as an i m a g e a l o n g side the black b a n n e r h o n o r i n g Dollfuss, but it is unnecessary to strain t o w a r d s o m e significant identity between the p u n i s h m e n t of D o n Juan's libertinism and a political assassination in Vienna. O u r repertory of i m ages is vast but finite; the resemblances that encourage us to place o n e thing next to another may range f r o m w h a t P r o u s t calls shared essences (a f u n d a m e n t a l identity of being) to chance affinities of f o r m in a universe w h e r e richness is largely a function of unpredictable reappearances. M o r e is of course at stake in the continuity between D i r t y o r T r o p p mann's insolence and N a z i s m . Nazism involves the calculated m e c h a n i zation of violence, and it w o u l d be t r u e — b u t perhaps a little t o o e a s y — t o say that D i r t y could n o t recognize her o w n uncontrollable prodigality in the "hateful a u t o m a t o n s " w h o mesmerize T r o p p m a n n . It w o u l d be better to emphasize the continuities between the i m a g e of N a zism at the end of the novel and b o t h Dirty's excesses and T r o p p m a n n ' s exhilaration in the "bleu du ciel" passage. T h a t is, w e can consider the opposition between calculation and spontaneity as a secondary difference within a m o r e p r o f o u n d resemblance; but, having d o n e this, w e can a r gue for a f o r m of self-repetition in w h i c h the t e r m s are so d i s p r o p o r t i o n ate as to m a k e imperative a m o v e m e n t of self-rejection. N a z i s m is the m o n s t r o u s l y inaccurate replication of the solarity that T r o p p m a n n nearly worships; it is a repetition of D i r t y in w h i c h D i r t y gets lost, in w h i c h she can only fail to find herself. It is m u c h m o r e than a question of merely exculpating Dirty, T r o p p m a n n , or for that matter Bataille. To w h a t extent d o the m o n s t r o u s l y inaccurate self-replications initiate effective f o r m s of political resistance? N a z i s m is a f o r m of violence to w h i c h , T r o p p m a n n predicts in his final paragraph, "it will be impossible to set a n y t h i n g b u t trivialities—the

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comic entreaties of old ladies." And yet f r o m within those repetitions that T r o p p m a n n accepts with such a dizzying casualness, and that irreversibly implicate him in the murderous solar laugh of his fantasized Nazi butchers, he experiences what he calls a "black irony," an unavoidable separation of himself f r o m what is his o w n solar madness. "Inordinate laughter was making m y head spin. As I found myself confronting this catastrophe, I was filled with the black irony that accompanies the moments of seizure when no one can help screaming" (152; 487). Dizzy, nearly hysterical, on the point of abdicating all control and all will in the face of this phenomenon whose appeal is precisely to multiply the occasions of a spasmodic loss of self, T r o p p m a n n discovers the self-restorative virtues of blackness. His irony partially annuls his mad jouissance, and its blackness is the assertion of a normalizing light, one that dims the blood-red light of the sun. If it is impossible not to be drawn to solar violence, it is equally impossible not to hold a domain of the self at a certain distance f r o m it, in the same way, T r o p p m a n n suggests, that a certain arresting attention inevitably accompanies the spasms and cries of a seizure or perhaps of a sexual climax. It is as if a negativizing movement of self-reflexiveness—itself a kind of spasm of being—were an inescapable retreat and protection f r o m the intrinsically totalitarian nature of ecstatic violence. O r , to put this another way, if Bataille's resolutely nonredemptive art, far f r o m making sense of life, initiates us to the pleasures of an uncritical participation in the text's o w n trance of agitated repetitions, it also cultivates an ironic reserve toward its own excesses. Thematically, this reserve takes the f o r m of Troppmann's somewhat foolish D o n j u a n i s m . His erotic calculations (especially with Xenie) both cheapen and save him f r o m the u n guarded excesses of Dirty (he thinks of her as " t o o voracious to go on living" [149; 485]). T h e seducer's plotting is thus vindicated as a sign of what is at stake in his erotic play; indeed it may save him f r o m being the lost victim of the violence of his o w n eroticism. More generally, black irony can be thought of in terms of a pervasive self-consciousness, the consciousness of a text continuously attesting to its o w n distance f r o m the anguish or torment that may have inspired it. Language remains inescapably discrete at every m o m e n t of its attempt to represent the loss of all discretion. Politically, it is true, Troppmann's black irony is also the sign of a radical impotence; in one sense it is merely the way he registers his notion that nothing (not even the war in which the "rising tide of m u r d e r " will finally be stopped) can defeat the catastrophically exciting violence that, f r o m Dirty in the Savoy to the Nazi children's orchestra, Le Bleu du del has so ambiguously figured. Bataille's novel implicitly mocks the limitless bad faith of a society that looks to

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art f o r its salvation. B u t in d e m o n s t r a t i n g , even in m o n s t r o u s l y e x a g g e r ating, art's p r o p e n s i t y to u n d o the f o r m a l i z i n g a n d s e n s e - m a k i n g p r o j e c t s of a r e d e m p t i v e culture, Le Bleu du del resolutely refuses to d o m i n a t e its mobile, m u d d l e d positions. It has, that is, the c o u r a g e to leave us w i t h the w h o l l y u n d e v e l o p e d — b u t possibly p r e c i o u s — s u g g e s t i o n that spasm o d i c i r o n y m a y be t h e b e g i n n i n g of political a n d cultural realism.

PART

II

Encyclopedic Fictions

CHAPTER

5

Flaubertian Rhythms

of Knowledge

Unable to agree on either the subject or the compositional principles of the novel they have decided to write, Flaubert's Bouvard and Pecuchet turn to "the science called aesthetics." After receiving a list of books on the subject, the two friends go to work. First they study the nature of the Beautiful. Then, Flaubert reports: T h e y tackled the question of the sublime. Certain objects arc sublime in themselves, the thunder of a torrent, deep darkness, a tree struck by a storm. A character is beautiful w h e n it triu m p h s , and sublime when it struggles. "I understand," said Bouvard, " t h e Beautiful is the Beautiful, and the Sublime the very Beautiful." H o w can they be distinguished? " B y intuition," answered Pecuchet. " A n d where does that come f r o m ? " " F r o m taste?" It is defined as special discernment, rapid j u d g e m e n t , the ability to distinguish certain relationships. " W h a t it comes to is that taste is taste, and none o f t h a t tells you h o w you get it." Conventions must be observed, but they vary, and however perfect a w o r k may be it will not always be above reproach. Yet there is an indestructible Beautiful, whose laws we d o n o t know, because its origin is mysterious. Since an idea cannot be translated by every form, we must recognize limits between the arts and, in each of the arts, several genres; but combinations arise in which the style of one will enter into another, or else miss the target, fail to be true. T h e Truth too slavishly applied impairs Beauty, and preoccupation with Beauty impedes Truth; however, w i t h o u t an ideal there is n o truth; which is w h y the reality of types is m o r e continuous than that of portraits. Besides, art only deals with verisimilitude, but that depends on the observer, is something relative, transitory. 1

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Does Flaubert mean to be satirical here, and of what and of whom? It may be of Bouvard and Pecuchet's deficient intellectual method or habits of reading, or it may be of the books they read—but what are those books? Flaubert usually names some of the authors his protagonists consult in their studies (just before the lines quoted he mentions five writers on aesthetics) without, however, mentioning the particular source of each theory or set of facts. The passage on aesthetic theory is typical in this respect: it condenses a mass of quite different theories into a single page of theoretical pronouncements with no attributions whatsoever. And yet stylistically that page could be a direct quote from a single author, for in this version of free indirect discourse Flaubert has reduced the distance between the narrator and his nearly quoted referent by using the present tense. It is, in other words, as if aesthetic theory were speaking directly—not a particular theorist of aesthetics, but the sourceless theory itself. The passage is, however, distinguished by a certain type of stylistic performance that, far from speaking the truth of aesthetic theory or of the characters immersed in that theory, is repeated throughout the novel regardless of the changes in epistemological reference. In the quoted passage there are numerous examples of Flaubert's rhythmical "signature." I am thinking, for example, of the ternary construction: in the first paragraph, "the thunder of a torrent, deep darkness, a tree struck by a storm," then the one-sentence paragraph on definitions of taste, and, in what might be considered a variation on that construction in which the second and third syntactic units decrease in size (the third is a single word), "but that depends on the observer, is something relative, transitory." There is also a prodigious use of directional shifts: note the interruptive nature of "but," "yet," and, peculiarly enough, "and" in the paragraph on Conventions and the Beautiful, and, especially, the zigzagging effect in the final paragraph on Truth of the first sentence's opening two clauses and of the subsequent "however," "besides," and "but." All these are of course swerves and negations of thought; but given the rapidity with which we pass from one thought to the next (each originally complex theory gets only a few words), we tend to experience intellectual inconsistency and confusion here as an almost purely rhythmical agitation, as a linguistic approximation of musical repetitions, variations, and abrupt shifts in thematic lines. In other words, the passage—and the novel as a whole—is really not "about" the deficiencies of either Bouvard and Pecuchet's understanding or of the state of human knowledge in a particular area. Instead Flaubert's work performs an erasure of the very conditions of being that would allow for such critical intentions in the first place. Human knowledge is cut off from both its sources and its reception; it is reduced—or elevated (these oppositions are meaningless

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applied to such m u t a t i o n s ) — t o intellectually a n d psychologically i n s i g nificant r h y t h m s . B o u v a r d and Pecuchet t h e m s e l v e s u n d e r g o the s a m e m u t a t i o n as t h e b o o k s they d e v o u r . If in the course of t h e novel Flaubert nearly e l i m i nates the distance b e t w e e n h i m s e l f and his bonshommes, it is n o t , as s o m e critics have said, because they b e c o m e m o r e intelligent o r that Flaubert c o m e s to feel m o r e s y m p a t h y f o r t h e m , b u t because he w a n t s to e l i m i nate t h e m . C o n s i d e r the f o l l o w i n g a c c o u n t of Pecuchet's ideas f o r religious r e f o r m : "The world has expanded, the earth is not the centre any more. It turns among the infinite multitude of worlds like it. Many exceed it in size, and this shrinking of our globe brings about a more sublime ideal of God." So, religion had to change. Paradise is something childish with its blessed ones always rapt in contemplation, always singing and looking down on the tortures of the damned. When you think that the basis of Christianity is an apple. (249; 362) O u r first i m p r e s s i o n is that Flaubert stops q u o t i n g P e c u c h e t in o r d e r t o continue quoting him. Except for the dropping of quotation marks, the c h a n g e f r o m direct discourse to free indirect discourse is indicated b y a single tense shift: " D o n e la religion devait c h a n g e r " transposes Pecuchet's saying: " D o n e la religion doit c h a n g e r . " T h e rest o f the p a r a g r a p h c o n tinues in the present, and if t h e w h o l e passage w e r e p u t in q u o t e s and " d e v a i t " b e c a m e " d o i t , " w e w o u l d certainly n o t feel that P e c u c h e t is s p e a k i n g " o u t of c h a r a c t e r . " H a v i n g m a d e Pecuchet's speech nearly i n distinguishable f r o m his o w n , t h e narrator's m o v e into free indirect discourse is t h e r e f o r e primarily experienced n o t as a strategy of p o i n t o f v i e w (which these m o v e s largely are in Madame Bovary) b u t rather as t h e expression of an ontological preference. T h e n a r r a t o r c o n t i n u e s P e c u chet's speech b y eliminating h i m as its source; Pecuchet as a t h i n k i n g subject merely provides t h e anecdotal t e r m for an a n o n y m o u s p e r f o r m a n c e of the imaginary. N o t h i n g subsists of Pecuchet e x c e p t his speech as sourceless s t y l e — s p e e c h that, b y virtue of its essence, can n o l o n g e r be considered as q u o t a t i o n . H u m a n k n o w l e d g e and h u m a n character are neither evaluated n o r p e r f o r m e d in their essential being in Bouvard et Pecuchet; they u n d e r g o a c h a n g e in ontological status. T h i s o p e r a t i o n is the s a m e t h r o u g h o u t t h e novel; w h a t h a p p e n s to h o r t i c u l t u r a l or j a m - m a k i n g expertise is identical to w h a t h a p p e n s t o theological doctrine. W h a t w e m i g h t be inclined t o consider as the tics of Flaubert's style are p e r h a p s the excessively visible signposts of t h e m u t a t i o n I a m discussing; the stylistic sameness they p r o d u c e s u g g e s t s — i n a w a y that contradicts Flaubert's o w n n o t i o n s o f style, at least as he expressed t h e m in letters w r i t t e n d u r i n g the c o m p o -

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sition of Madame Bovary—the epistemological indifference of art to its objects. F u r t h e r m o r e , once the m o d e l of these m u t a t i o n s is given, their repetition is unnecessary. T h e encyclopedism of Bouvard et Pecuchet— Flaubert's massive reading for the novel n o t w i t h s t a n d i n g — i s s o m e w h a t illusory. W h a t w e have is the appearance of an encyclopedic novel, an accumulation of facts and theories f r o m the m o s t diverse fields of k n o w l edge in order to discredit the claims of art to any epistemological validity whatsoever. In Bouvard et Pecuchet Flaubert makes a perhaps unexpectedly m o d e s t claim for the authority of art. If the novel ceaselessly repeats an operation that m i g h t be t h o u g h t of as requiring a single d e m o n s t r a t i o n (since the effect of the operation will n o t be changed b y the use of n e w material), this is because B o u v a r d and Pecuchet are themselves in a tensely frictional opposition to the narrator's m u t a t i o n a l w o r k . By resisting their total absorption into the Flaubertian free indirect discourse, B o u v a r d and Pecuchet keep o p e n another option: that of consciousness at w o r k in the world. If they lack b o t h the believability and the psychological density w e associate w i t h the characters of realistic fiction, they nonetheless have a m a r k e d specificity as c h a r a c t e r s — m o r e precisely, as philosophical characters. T h e relation of B o u v a r d and Pecuchet to k n o w l e d g e is highly practical; if Flaubert has satirical intentions t o w a r d t h e m , it is n o t because they are intellectually mediocre but because they w o u l d put k n o w l e d g e to use. As their studies proceed, they develop "a need for t r u t h in i t s e l f " (121; 188), b u t their p h i l o s o p h y always takes the f o r m of applied p h i losophy, of innumerable experiments (on themselves and on others) and tireless attempts to enlighten themselves and their neighbors. T h e s e inveterate lecturers are extraordinarily restless; they always have to d o s o m e t h i n g w i t h k n o w l e d g e , and they m u s t have an audience. A suitable climax to the careers of such eminently practical and public philosophers, Flaubert suggests, m i g h t have been in u r b a n planning and adult education. 2 Flaubert's letters are full of generous praise for those writers (Rabelais, Shakespeare, Cervantes) w h o — u n l i k e himself, at least as he m a g n a n i m o u s l y imagines t h e m — c o u l d afford n o t to w o r r y a b o u t each t u r n of phrase because they had the gift of excess. B u t this is w h a t Flaubert h i m self finally p r o d u c e d in Bouvard et Picuchet: a w o r k that, as it proceeds, erases its concessions to its o w n readability within a tradition of fiction that Flaubert himself helped to solidify. Bouvard et Pecuchet is a h y b r i d masterpiece, a crossing of social realism and philosophical allegory, a m u t a t i o n of fictional anecdote and b i o g r a p h y into a kind of heroic struggle between the concerns of p h i l o s o p h y (philosophy as always concerned) and the epistemological indifference or neutrality of art. By their excesses, B o u v a r d and Pecuchet c o m e to figure the sublimity of a

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civilization w i t h o u t art, a civilization devoted exclusively to the use of k n o w l e d g e to bridge the gap between h u m a n consciousness and its e n v i r o n m e n t . At this level of emblematic significance, the quality of B o u vard and Pecuchet's learning is irrelevant; intelligence itself is finally irrelevant to the boundlessly energetic will to m a k e the h u m a n m i n d ideally consequential, to realize representation. Against this temptation, Flaubert's narrative p e r f o r m s a highly seductive derealization: the mere representation of representation. B o u v a r d and Pecuchet rush into the w o r l d w i t h their representations of it; Flaubert, by severing their k n o w l e d g e f r o m its sources, 3 its reception, and its p o s sible uses, simply repeats it as n o t h i n g m o r e than a series of m o m e n t s in the life of an errant, unidentifiable, unusable consciousness. B o u v a r d and Pecuchet ceaselessly w o r k against the imaginary nature of the m i n d ' s representations; Flaubert j u s t as ceaselessly emphasizes the a u t o n o m y of representations, thus suggesting that the effect of o u r inclination to r e p resent the real is, necessarily, to alienate us f r o m objects of representation. T h e c o m e d y of Bouvard et Pecuchet depends o n the t w o friends being defeated by this opposition to their projects; they are, that is to say, saved f r o m the world's persecution b y the erasure of their projects as projects. B u t it is of course impossible to speak of t h e m as if they themselves merely opposed such erasure. T h e energetic will to live w i t h k n o w l e d g e in the w o r l d has already been invalidated b y the p r i m a r y representation of that w i l l — b y the very precondition of o u r being able to recognize it, the w r i t i n g of Bouvard et Pecuchet. Before the quotation m a r k s of their speech have been r e m o v e d , they are already not there, a l t h o u g h it is of course one of the tricks of literature—and especially of realistic fict i o n — t o m a k e us believe in its multiple contacts w i t h the w o r l d . In art, the price of c o m i c relief is always the inconsequential n a t u r e of b o t h catastrophe and salvation. *

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A n d yet the Flaubertian m o v e into the i m a g i n a r y — w h i c h Sartre saw as a rejection of history and politics—should, I think, also be seen as a p o litical strategy. T h e alienation I have been describing is a f o r m of resistance. First of all, the practice of an inapplicable discourse can be t h o u g h t of as a defense against the manipulative seductions of political language. In the f a m o u s "Cornices agricoles" scene in Madame Bovary, Flaubert renders the sexually and politically p o r n o g r a p h i c language of R o d o l p h e and Lieuvain i m p o t e n t merely by j u x t a p o s i n g the t w o discourses, b y letting each of t h e m cut into or interrupt the other. T h e j u x t a p o s i t i o n of Rodolphe's a m o r o u s r h a p s o d y w i t h the sous-prefet's praise of agriculture and civil obedience reveals i m p o r t a n t rhetorical similarities between the t w o . Each speech is designed to seduce its audience, and the superficial

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differences o f c o n t e n t (the spiritual o p p o s e d to t h e basely material, p a s sion against m a n u r e ) hide a c o m m o n i n t e n t i o n : that o f m a k i n g t h e listeners passive and o b e d i e n t (sexually a n d politically). T h i s i n t e n t i o n is realized t h r o u g h " l i t e r a r y " means, t h r o u g h m e t a p h o r , antitheses, r h e torical questions, and m o r e generally a pleasantly n u m b i n g musicalizing of the brutal message. I have s p o k e n o f t h e d o m i n a n c e of certain r h y t h m s in Flaubert's w r i t i n g as t h e sign of l a n g u a g e b e i n g severed f r o m a n y such intentions, o f its participating in the disinterested, purposeless activity of t h e imaginary. We s h o u l d , h o w e v e r , see that Flaubert recognizes t h e p o tential uses o f verbal musicality and that he implicitly distinguishes b e t w e e n art a n d the persuasive potentialities of rhetoric. A r t occurs o n l y as a kind of rhetorical ascesis, w h e n r h e t o r i c itself r e n o u n c e s its persuasive o r seductive p o w e r s . A n d this seems to o c c u r principally t h r o u g h a t y p e o f self-reflexiveness, o r ironic m o v e . R o d o l p h e ' s and Lieuvain's r e p r e s e n tations of love a n d the n a t i o n are n e u t r a l i z e d — a n d , it is i m p l i e d , a u t h e n tically a e s t h e t i c i z e d — s i m p l y b y b e i n g t h e m s e l v e s represented, repeated w i t h i n a different musical s t r u c t u r e — o n e of alternating blocks o f disc o u r s e — w h i c h p r e e m p t s t h e s h o r t e r persuasive r h y t h m s and reduces (or elevates) b o t h discourses to the status of artistic display. T h e representation o f representation can t h e r e f o r e b e a politically d e fensive m o v e . T h e aestheticizing repetition of R o d o l p h e and Lieuvain operates a l m o s t as a pedagogical m o d e l of h o w to elude t h e i m m e d i a c y of seductive speech. It is n o t exactly a q u e s t i o n of a critical analysis of such speech, b u t of a p e r h a p s m o r e p o t e n t invalidating strategy: a k i n d of distancing repetition o r r c c n a c t m e n t in w h i c h the m a n i p u l a t i v e agent's discourse is d e p r i v e d o f any subject w h o m i g h t p r o f i t f r o m its effectiveness. Flaubert's art suggests ways in w h i c h the aestheticizing of d i s c o u r s e can operate outside art if o n l y as m o m e n t s o f resistance w i t h i n n e t w o r k s o f political o r sexual p o w e r . It is o f c o u r s e true that neither E m m a n o r Lieuvain's peasant listeners n o r f i n a l l y — b u t this is m o r e a m b i g u o u s — the p r o t a g o n i s t s o f Bouvard et Pecuchet p r o f i t f r o m such ironic repetitions. Yet they arc m o d e l s of h o w a certain t y p e o f a p p r o p r i a t i o n o f l a n g u a g e can, at least m o m e n t a r i l y , p r o t e c t us f r o m its coercive designs. In Bouvard et Pecuchet, h o w e v e r , Flaubert goes so far as to save the realistic novel itself f r o m its collaborative participation in such designs. T h e instability of B o u v a r d and Pecuchet as c h a r a c t e r s — t h e process b y w h i c h they are " r e p l a y e d " as the subjectless r h y t h m s o f a depersonalized n a r r a t i v e — p o i n t s to a kind of resistance to strategies of p o w e r that w o u l d n o longer be d e p e n d e n t o n t h e spectacle of defeated (if heroic) characters. As l o n g as the novelist acquiesces in, say, the very possibility o f E m m a B o v a r y as a psychological subject, t h e novel that presents itself as an ironic repetition o f her fate can resist this fate only if it presents art as a retreat f r o m the p h e n o m e n a l t o the imaginary. Bouvard et Pecuchet raises

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the m o r e exciting possibility of the i m a g i n a r y as politically aggressive. T h e incoherence of Flaubert's b o n s h o m m e s is perhaps the novel's m o s t precious achievement, for it suggests that the errance of the i m a g i n a r y dissolves the identities that coercive strategies m u s t assume in order to be effective. O n the one hand, B o u v a r d and Pecuchet are so u n c o m p r o misingly definite in their projects that they b e c o m e easy targets for an antagonistic c o m m u n i t y ; on the other, the very excess of their philosophical and proselytizing energy is constantly u n d o i n g their projects, giving t h e m a kind of crazy mobility that may, had Flaubert c o m p l e t e d the novel, have allowed t h e m to escape their countrymen's w r a t h and enjoy the a m b i g u o u s f r e e d o m of harmless m a d m e n . T h i s may not seem like m u c h in the way of political aggressiveness, and yet it is potentially m o r e radical than any reformist project. For it proposes the aesthetic as a strategy for eluding definitions and identifications, and in so d o i n g it suggests, paradoxically, the political uses of art's uselessness in any struggle for a free society. Flaubert's brief mutational resumes of vast areas of k n o w l e d g e suggest that, far f r o m being c o n d e m n e d to cultural insignificance if it does n o t s o m e h o w account for the encyclopedic k n o w l e d g e of its time, 4 art is by definition an ontological relocation of the materials of p h i l o s o p h y and science. Bouvard et Pecuchet does not i m p l y — a s , say, Ulysses d o e s — t h a t its o w n p e r f o r m a n c e can redemptively replace all those materials, b u t it does p r o p o s e w h a t w e m i g h t think of as a salutary interference w i t h the processing of k n o w l e d g e as power. At the price of a certain indifference to the beneficial effects of thought's mastery of nature (including its o w n nature), art cultivates a deliberately fragmentary, unusable, even i g n o r a n t relational play w i t h the entries of its culture's encyclopedia. Flaubert's treatment of all the b o o k s devoured w i t h such anxiety by his heroes is to convert their subjects into a f e w occasions of purposeless pleasure. For the Flaubertian writer this pleasure involves certain r h y t h m i c a l p r e f e r ences. H e sensually repeats the k n o w l e d g e of his time in the f o r m of his musical prose, a prose continuously returning to, and playing w i t h , its preferred rests and measures. B o u v a r d and P e c u c h e t — n o t to speak of the hostile w o r l d of Chavignolles—retain j u s t e n o u g h resistant presence to r e m i n d us that the w o r l d is still there, that the narcissistic l u x u r y of art is always a m o m e n t a r y delay in the necessary w o r k of civilization. Flaubert, for all his p r e s u m e d idolatry of art, therefore implies that, far f r o m having a secure place or a central role in that accumulation of k n o w l e d g e by w h i c h civilizations achieve historical mastery, the artist is content to repeat himself in the margins of such w o r k . T h e language of every page of Bouvard et Pecuchet obtrusively reenacts that t u r n i n g away f r o m objects (and by objects I m e a n here the entire fictional w o r l d of the novel: the t w o friends, the b o o k s they read, the c o m m u n i t y they live in),

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the solipsistic play that psychoanalysis invites us t o see as intrinsic t o sexuality and to art. Indeed, art could be p u t on the side o f sexuality in the Freudian o p p o s i t i o n b e t w e e n civilization and pleasure. B u t if t h e n a r cissistic aestheticizing of B o u v a r d and Pecuchet's studies suggests that art t r a n s f o r m s discursive c o m m u n i c a t i o n s into t h e privacy o f a verbal j o u i s s ance, the v e r y b l o c k i n g of the message in art limits t h e political uses o f k n o w l e d g e . Flaubert defines b o t h the limitations a n d t h e necessity o f art. In Bouvard et Pecuchet, style caresses an encyclopedic culture o u t o f its projects of m a s t e r y and i n t o a liberalizing i m p o t e n c e . *

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We may, finally, be h a p p y a b o u t Flaubert's failure to c o m p l e t e his w o r k . In t h e u n w r i t t e n second v o l u m e , his b o n s h o m m e s w e r e a p p a r ently to r e t u r n to their w o r k as copyists, and this part of Bouvard et Pecuchet w o u l d have been an encyclopedic mass of q u o t a t i o n s , a s t u p e f y i n g d o c u m e n t a t i o n o f h u m a n stupidity. Passages f r o m t h e i n n u m e r a b l e b o o k s B o u v a r d and Pecuchet have read w o u l d replace t h e narrative s u m maries of part one, s u m m a r i e s that, as w e have seen in the o n e - p a g e c o n d e n s a t i o n o f several w o r k s of aesthetic theory, effect a m u t a t i o n that is the principal o p e r a t i o n of Flaubert's w o r k . B u t Flaubert was hesitant to reduce part t w o to m e r e q u o t a t i o n ; his notes f o r the u n w r i t t e n v o l u m e s h o w h i m m o v i n g t o w a r d an additional narrative presence, o r even e x plicitly critical interventions, in, for e x a m p l e , the f o r m of including o t h e r readers' n o t e s that B o u v a r d a n d Pecuchet w o u l d find in t h e m a r g i n s o f certain passages, o r s i m p l y o f c o m m e n t s f r o m t h e t w o copyists t h e m selves. 5 T h e Dictionnaire des idees regues—a project Flaubert was w o r k i n g on f o r years b e f o r e he b e g a n w r i t i n g Bouvard et Pecuchet—would also have f o u n d its way into v o l u m e t w o . T h e Dictionnaire could also b e t h o u g h t of as a w o r k o f q u o t a t i o n , b u t here t h e sources arc a n o n y m o u s : this strangest (and p e r h a p s m o s t cherished) of Flaubert's p r o j e c t s cither q u o t e s a c o m m o n cliche a b o u t o n e o f its entries ("ARTISTS: T h e y earn h u g e s u m s b u t s q u a n d e r t h e m . O f t e n asked to dine o u t . . . W h a t artists d o can't be called w o r k " [294; 489]) o r indicates, o f t e n w i t h o b v i o u s irony, h o w t o use the t e r m in t h e m o s t acceptably mindless w a y ("NEGROES: E x p r e s s surprise that their saliva is w h i t e and that they can speak F r e n c h " [318; 542]). It is t e m p t i n g t o t h i n k of v o l u m e t w o as merely c o n t i n u i n g — w i t h other, m o r e direct m e a n s — t h e encyclopedic review of h u m a n k n o w l edge b e g u n in v o l u m e one. B u t the " o t h e r m e a n s " c h a n g e e v e r y t h i n g . F r o m all the indications w e have, v o l u m e t w o w o u l d have been a brutally satirical w o r k , b y virtue o f its citational nature. It is as if Flaubert h a d lost faith in the m u t a t i o n a l p o w e r of his style, as if t h e mass o f c o n t r a d i c t o r y and cliche-ridden o p i n i o n s securely passing t h e m s e l v e s o f f as

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knowledge could be dealt with only by lighting them up, by letting t h e m speak for themselves, by accumulating and stuffing t h e m into the readers' minds until they are violently rejected, t h r o w n up by a finally sickened intelligence. This enterprise has fascinated many of Flaubert's critics, but it seems to me that the stakes have become considerably less important with volume two. Bouvard et Pecuchet becomes virulent satire, the "encyclopedia of human stupidity" that Flaubert thought at one point of using as a subtitle for the entire novel. Perhaps Flaubert himself had become the victim of a realistic illusion that the first nine chapters w o r k to destroy: angered by his heroes' defeat, Flaubert, like them, becomes the vengeful mirror of the community's meanness and imbecility. A Dictionnaire des idees revues is an act of revenge, but perhaps also one of redemptive annihilation: the artist's classification of mental garbage replaces it, and the detritus of consciousness, repeated in literature, is at once transmuted and immortalized. But the transmutation depends on a superstitious belief in the redemptive power of art, a belief starkly illustrated by the nearly literal reduction of art to copying. Within this magical system, the work of art has become unnecessary. It is merely a question of transporting the materials of experience into the area of the book; once there, it will be invested by virtues inherent in art, m e t onymically transfigured. N o t h i n g could be m o r e different f r o m the p r o cesses I have attempted to describe in discussing the first (and, in fact, only) section of Bouvard et Pecuchet. There art is not lying in wait, like a divine receptacle, to receive and redeem experience; rather, art is a m o d e of being produced by a certain type of h u m a n work. In suggesting its preference for this more modest role, the realized Bouvard et Pecuchet accomplishes its own impressive mutations, mutations that depend o n — a n d remind us o f — t h e extraordinary plasticity of consciousness, its capacity to make something we call art f r o m a narcissistic lingering over its o w n representations or, in other words, f r o m a preference for representational play over representational truth.

CHAPTER

Incomparable

6

America

Should America be orphaned? Can you become an orphan if you already know who your parents are? Put in these terms, the problems inherent in the resolve o f nineteenth-ccntury American writers to forge a great national literature freed from parental European influence may begin to seem not merely grave but unsolvable. One o f the most stirring and militant versions o f this call for an independent American literature can be found in Herman Melville's "Hawthorne and His M o s s e s , " an essay written for the Literary World in the summer o f 1850, during the c o m position o f Moby-Dick. T h e fact that Hawthorne is extravagantly praised in the first part o f the essay, even though Melville—"to be frank (though, perhaps, rather foolish)"—admits in the second part (written a day later) that he hadn't yet read all the stories in Mosses from an Old Manse, suggests that Hawthorne himself may not be exactly central to the argument he inspires. If Hawthorne is compared to Shakespeare in this essay, and if Melville defiantly defends the comparison against those who may be shocked " t o read o f Shakespeare and Hawthorne on the same page," it is in order to move beyond Hawthorne, to suggest that while Hawthorne himself is not as great as Shakespeare, someone else will soon appear to rival the greatest English writer. " I f Shakespeare has not been equalled, give the world time, and he is sure to be surpassed, in one hemisphere or the other." Actually Melville has already been much more precise geographically. "Believe me, my friends, that men not very much inferior to Shakespeare, are this day being born on the banks o f the O h i o . " Shakespeare will be surpassed, that is, by an American. But if America is to produce writers at least equal to the greatest European writers, it will not be by imitating European models. American literary greatness requires an originality that carries within it the danger o f failure, a danger that, in the most remarkable passage o f the essay, Melville happily embraces:

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But it is better to fail in originality, than to succeed in imitation. H e w h o has never failed somewhere, that man cannot be great. Failure is the true test of greatness. A n d if it be said, that continual success is a proof that a man wisely k n o w s his powers,—it is only to be added, that, in that case, he k n o w s them to be small. Let us believe it, then, once for all, that there is n o hope for us in these s m o o t h pleasing writers that k n o w their powers. Without malice, but to speak the plain fact, they but furnish an appendix to Goldsmith, and other English authors. A n d we want n o American G o l d smiths; nay; we want no American Miltons. It were the vilest thing you could say of a true American author, that he were an American Tompkins. Call him an American, and have done; for you can not say a nobler thing of h i m , — b u t it is not meant that all American writers should studiously cleave to nationality in their writings; only this, n o American writer should write like an Englishman, or a Frenchman; let him write like a man, for then he will be sure to write like an American. Let us away with this leaven of literary flunkyism towards England. If either must play the flunky in this thing, let England do it, not us. While we are rapidly preparing for that political supremacy a m o n g the nations, which prophetically awaits us at the close of the present century; in a literary point of view, we are deplorably unprepared for it; and we seem studious to remain so. Hitherto, reasons might have existed w h y this should be; but n o good reason exists now. A n d all that is requisite to a m e n d m e n t in this matter, is simply this: that, while freely acknowledging all excellence, everywhere, we should refrain f r o m unduly lauding foreign writers, and, at the same time, duly recognize the meritorious writers that are our o w n ; — t h o s e writers, w h o breathe that u n shackled, democratic spirit of Christianity in all things, which n o w takes the practical lead in this world, t h o u g h at the same time led by o u r selves—us Americans. Let us boldly contemn all imitation, t h o u g h it comes to us graceful and fragrant as the morning; and foster all originality, t h o u g h , at first, it be crabbed and ugly as our o w n pine k n o t s . ' T h i s u n a s h a m e d e x p r e s s i o n o f an i n t e n s e n a t i o n a l p r i d e at o n c e c r e a t e s a n d o b s c u r e s c o n s i d e r a b l e p r o b l e m s . A m e r i c a is p r e p a r i n g t o a s s e r t its "political supremacy a m o n g the nations." O n l y "in a literary point of v i e w " are w c l a g g i n g b e h i n d ; t h e g r e a t A m e r i c a n w r i t e r w i l l , t h e n , g i v e t o h i s c o u n t r y a c u l t u r a l a u t h o r i t y e q u a l t o its p o l i t i c a l a u t h o r i t y . T h i s a u t h o r i t y rests, h o w e v e r , o n a form o f g o v e r n m e n t t h a t s u b v e r t s its v e r y basis: t h e d e m o c r a t i c idea o f e q u a l i t y m a k e s s o m e w h a t p r o b l e m a t i c M e l ville's c o m f o r t a b l e , i n d e e d e m p h a t i c p r o m o t i o n o f n o n d e m o c r a t i c c u l tural and political relations b e t w e e n A m e r i c a a n d the rest o f t h e w o r l d . A s o c i e t y t h a t asserts b o t h t h e l i m i t s a n d t h e p r o v i s i o n a l n a t u r e o f a u t h o r i t y is a b o u t t o d o m i n a t e o t h e r societies, a n d M e l v i l l e is so e x c i t c d b y t h a t idea t h a t h e w a n t s n o form o f d o m i n a t i o n t o b e l e f t o u t . T h e A m e r i c a n s p i r i t o f e q u a l i t y h a s t o b e first e v e r y w h e r e in b o t h l e t t e r s a n d politics.

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Moby-Dick both represents and seeks to evade the difficulties raised by the imperialist militancy of the democratic spirit. We can already see Melville's predilection—also confirmed by the rhetoric of Moby-Dick— for concepts whose terms appear to cancel each other out. T h e proven value of the democratic ideal justifies America's accession to supreme power in the nondemocratic relations a m o n g countries (relations consonant, in the case of other states, with their internal hierarchies of power). This entire section of " H a w t h o r n e and His Mosses" is characterized by its conceptual incompatibilities. N o t content to say that an original failure is better than a successful imitation, or even that a man must have risked failure to attain greatness, Melville asserts, in a significant logical j u m p f r o m the two previous propositions: "Failure is the true test of greatness." Most important, this habit of thought makes it nearly i m possible to imagine h o w the great American work might be produced. Melville's invocation of American greatness is almost obsessively c o m parative. H a w t h o r n e is not "greater than William of Avon, or as great. But the difference between them is by n o means immeasurable. N o t a very great deal more, and Nathaniel were verily William." This fidelity to, and meticulous quantifying of, the notion of greatness continues in the comparison between Shakespeare and all other writers, both past and present. "This, too, I mean, that if Shakespeare has not been equalled, give the world time, and he is sure to be surpassed, in one hemisphere or the o t h e r . " But the condition of such surpassing seems to be the erasure of the continuities allowing us to recognize, for example, that Shakespeare has been surpassed. T h e passage is most remarkable for its extravagant—and perhaps peculiarly American—expression of an i m possible dream: that of a literature without debts, which would owe nothing to the past. 2 H o w is original American greatness to be measured (since it is apparently to be measured) or even identified? T h e answer is defiant, but scarcely illuminating: " n o American writer should write like an Englishman, or a Frenchman; let him write like a man, for then he will be sure to write like an American." T h e question should probably be reformulated as: Is it possible to write like n o b o d y — w i t h o u t , h o w ever, eliminating the possibility of writing better than anyone else or being favorably compared with those to w h o m one owes nothing? American originality will write a glorious new chapter in the history of world literature only if it rejects its place in that history. Moby-Dick,in extraordinary ways, accepts and struggles with the pressure of these contradictions. It is clear that Melville has n o intention of waiting for those men just being born on the banks of the O h i o to prove their genius. Moby-Dick is the great original American book invoked in " H a w t h o r n e and His Mosses"; or, at the very least, it squarely meets the

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challenge o f t h a t essay. Melville will take an American subject—even a provincial American subject: the industry of whaling—and show that the greatest literature can be made f r o m that subject. It is not a question of proving that a lot can be made out of a little, but rather of showing that what may seem to be a little is already a lot. "To produce a m i g h t y b o o k , " Ishmael declares, "you must choose a mighty theme. N o great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, t h o u g h many there be w h o have tried it" (379). Whaling is inherently a mighty subject, and to embrace it is to try to hold something that itself reaches out and connects to everything else in h u m a n time and cosmic space. Ahab may be crazy to assign evil intentions to a d u m b brute, but the pursuit of M o b y Dick can't help being a hunt for sense. A whaling expedition is inevitably an adventure in reading; the whale is a primary text of nature itself. N o t only that: even as Melville's novel goes along, it is constantly being submitted to a vigilant comparison to other cultural models. There is a cultural encyclopedism in Moby-Dick as well as a cetological encyclopedism. It is not that the entries exhaustively treat any subject, but the encyclopedic intention—which is perhaps all the encyclopedic novel ever gives us in any case—is obvious with respect to foreign cultures as well as to whaling. It is as if the great American novel had constantly to be measuring itself against the highest achievements of other cultures, and in Moby-Dick this means testing the American book's capacity to appropriate a vast field of cultural reference. Melville's splendidly arrogant claim is that almost everything in world culture might be made to serve his subject. The "comprehensiveness of sweep" of Ishmael's thoughts of Leviathan reaches out, most notably, to the Bible, to Shakespeare, and to Greek tragedy, and these illustrious references lose some of their a u t o n o mous worth in order to serve Moby-Dick, to become mere aids to intelligibility—analogical satellites—in an American drama. It is not merely that Moby-Dick is w o r t h y of being compared to either King Lear or Oedipus Rex. Instead it must be compared to both at the same time; only an encyclopedic range of cultural reference can do justice to Melville's mighty theme. His book reenacts several biblical dramas (Ahab, Ishmael, Ezekiel, Rachel, and others), the Greek tragedies of fatality, and Lear's tragic intimacy with nature and madness. Moby-Dick is therefore not only as great as any one of these references; in needing t h e m all to explain itself, it also proposes to surpass t h e m all. Cetological erudition in MobyDick is only the first step in an enterprise of cannibalistic encyclopedism. Like its monster-hero, Melville's novel opens its jaws to devour all other representations f r o m Lear's Fool to Vishnoo the Hindu god. And yet all this is something of a j o k e (although one that can also turn on itself and make another kind o f j o k e o f j o k i n g ) :

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Friends, hold my arms! For in the mere act of penning my thoughts of this Leviathan, they weary me, and make me faint with their outreaching comprehensiveness of sweep, as if to include the whole circle of the sciences, and all the generations of whales, and men, and mastodons, past, present, and to come, with all the revolving panoramas of empire on earth, and throughout the whole universe, not excluding its suburbs. (379) " N o t excluding its s u b u r b s " ? S o m e t h i n g , obviously, has g o n e awry. T h e h y p e r b o l e of t h e first part of this passage m a y already have m a d e us s o m e w h a t suspicious, b u t h o w are w e t o place that p h r a s e a b o u t the universe's s u b u r b s in a serious claim a b o u t Moby-Dick's m i g h t y t h e m e ? M u c h has b e e n w r i t t e n a b o u t t h e h u m o r in Melville's novel, especially as a c o u n t e r p o i n t to Ahab's m o n o m a n i a c a l p u r s u i t o f t h e w h a l e . T h e p o s sibility of sinister and f a r - r e a c h i n g significance in t h e w h a l e is o f t e n dissipated b y all t h e m o c k i n g allusions to the philosophical p r o f u n d i t y necessary to u n c o v e r that significance. Besides, the last t h i n g a w h a l i n g ship needs is a serious philosophical m i n d . Indeed, this is t h e explicit lesson of " T h e M a s t - H e a d " chapter, w h e r e Ishmael w a r n s N a n t u c k e t s h i p o w n e r s to b e w a r e that " s u n k e n - e y e d y o u n g Platonist [ w h o ] will t o w y o u ten wakes a r o u n d t h e w o r l d , and never m a k e y o u o n e pint o f s p e r m t h e r i c h e r " (139). T h e cultural a p p r o p r i a t i o n s m e a n t to authenticate Moby-Dick's claim to greatness are e x p o s e d as b o t h l a u g h i n g l y i n a p p r o priate to t h e b o o k ' s subject a n d even s o m e w h a t ridiculous in themselves. N o t o n l y that: in spite o f w h a t m i g h t s e e m like a heavy d o s e o f c e t o l o g y f o r a w o r k o f fiction, Ishmael actually e n c o u r a g e s us t o be d i s t r u s t f u l o f his research and p r e s u m e d k n o w l e d g e a b o u t the whale. T h e b o o k ' s cetological e r u d i t i o n — b a s e d on r e m a r k a b l y partial s o u r c e s — i s o f t e n n o t h ing m o r e than a p a r o d y o f the e r u d i t i o n of others, a n d t h e " p r o o f s " offered of t h e whale's e x t r a o r d i n a r y p o w e r s m o s t f r e q u e n t l y consist (as in " T h e A f f i d a v i t " chapter) o f hearsay a n d assertion. 3 M o r e is at stake here than Ishmael's resistance to Ahab's m o n o m a n i a , m o r e t h a n a p r e s u m a b l y viable h u m a n i s t i c alternative to i n t e r p r e t i v e m a d n e s s . It is as if t h e w r i t i n g of Moby-Dick b e c a m e f o r Melville the eerie process o f dismissing t h e v e r y a m b i t i o n s that t h e novel also seeks so s t r e n u o u s l y t o realize, as if a k i n d o f leveling indifference h a d taken over o r — m o s t i n t e r e s t i n g l y — a s if t h e n o t i o n of A m e r i c a n literary greatness w e r e d r o p p e d in o r d e r to be reinvented, b u t reinvented as s o m e t h i n g lost, indefensible, a b a n d o n e d . *

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W h a t is it, in Moby-Dick's p r i m a r y project, that m i g h t explain Melville's apparent indifference t o w a r d it, even his s u b v e r s i o n of it? In Moby-Dick the political implication of t h e contradictions hinted at in " H a w t h o r n e a n d H i s M o s s e s " b e c o m e s inescapable. M o r e exactly, the n o t i o n o f

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A m e r i c a n literary g r e a t n e s s is politically r e p r e s e n t e d in Moby-Dick, and this m e a n s t r y i n g t o g i v e s o m e c o h e r e n c e o r plausibility t o t h e idea o f a d e m o c r a t i c g r e a t n e s s . 4 T h e " a u g u s t d i g n i t y I treat o f , " I s h m a e l w r i t e s in t h e early s e c t i o n i n t r o d u c i n g A h a b a n d his m a t e s , is not the dignity of kings and robes, but that abounding dignity which has no robed investiture. Thou shalt see it shining in the arm that wields a pick or drives a spike; that democratic dignity which, on all hands, radiates without end f r o m God; Himself! T h e great God absolute! The center and circumference of all democracy! His omnipresence, our divine equality! If, then, to meanest mariners, and renegades and castaways, I shall hereafter ascribe high qualities, though dark; weave round them tragic graces; if even the most mournful, perchance the most abased, among them all, shall at times lift himself to the exalted mounts; if I shall touch that workman's arm with some ethereal light; if I shall spread a rainbow over his disastrous set of sun; then against all mortal critics bear me out in it; thou just Spirit of Equality, which hast spread one royal mantle of humanity over all my kind! (104-105) N o t h i n g in this p a s s a g e s u g g e s t s a r e j e c t i o n o f t h e p r i n c i p l e o f a r i s t o c r a t i c privilege. O n the contrary: Ishmael promises a multiplication of the signs a n d a c c o u t r e m e n t s o f a s o c i e t y b a s e d o n p r i v i l e g e . H e will a s c r i b e " h i g h q u a l i t i e s " t o t h e h e r o e s o f his n a r r a t i v e , " w e a v e a r o u n d t h e m t r a g i c g r a c e s , " t o u c h t h e m w i t h " e t h e r e a l l i g h t " a n d lift t h e m t o " e x a l t e d m o u n t s " ; " p e a r l " and "finest g o l d " translate the genius of B u n y a n and C e r v a n t e s , a n d A n d r e w J a c k s o n is i m a g i n e d as h a v i n g b e e n " t h u n d e r e d " h i g h e r t h a n a t h r o n e . " D e m o c r a c y " h e r e consists in t h e fact t h a t n o n e o f this p r e e m i n e n c e is p r e d e t e r m i n e d : in a d e m o c r a t i c society, a n y b o d y can b e l i f t e d t o royalty. T h e p r i n c i p l e s t h a t d e t e r m i n e places w i t h i n a h i e r a r c h y h a v e b e e n c h a n g e d , b u t t h e h i e r a r c h i c a l s t r u c t u r e has r e m a i n e d i n tact. It is s i m p l y t h a t n o w t h e " c h a m p i o n s " will c o m e f r o m " t h e k i n g l y c o m m o n s . " In Moby-Dick t h e r h e t o r i c o f d e m o c r a c y has b e c o m e o x y m o r o n i c : in a d e m o c r a c y , e q u a l i t y f o u n d s a n d l e g i t i m a t e s i n e q u a l i t y . A h a b ' s " i r r e s i s t i b l e d i c t a t o r s h i p " p e r f e c t l y r e p r e s e n t s this c o n v e r s i o n of democracy into royalism. His absolute domination of the crew p r o vides a d e m o c r a t i c s a n c t i o n o f d e s p o t i s m . It is t r u e t h a t t o a c e r t a i n e x t e n t " t h e p a r a m o u n t f o r m s a n d u s a g e s o f t h e s e a " r e i n f o r c e a captain's a u t h o r i t y i n d e p e n d e n t l y o f his i n t r i n s i c m e r i t . In this sense a s h i p is less like a d e m o c r a c y t h a n a m o n a r c h y , a n d can e v e n call t o m i n d t h o s e " r o y a l i n s t a n c e s " w h e n " e x t e r n a l arts a n d e m b e l l i s h m e n t s " h a v e " i m p a r t e d p o t e n c y " t o " i d i o t i m b e c i l i t y . " B u t h a v i n g g r a n t e d this, I s h m a e l insists t h a t the greatness of A h a b owes n o t h i n g to the prestige of inherited f o r m s , t h a t — a n d w e can a d d : like t h e g r e a t n e s s o f A m e r i c a itself o r t h a t o f t h e A m e r i c a n literary w o r k s i n v o k e d in " H a w t h o r n e a n d H i s M o s s e s " — i t is a w h o l l y original greatness, one w i t h o u t history or traditions. U n l i k e

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the "tragic dramatists" w h o , wishing to "depict mortal indomitableness in its fullest sweep and direct s w i n g , " never forget to lend their heroes the persuasive power of "external arts and embellishments," Ishmael sees his captain Ahab as moving before him in all his Nantucket grimness and shagginess; and in this episode touching Emperors and kings, I must not conceal that I have only to do with a poor old whale-hunter like him; and, therefore, all outward majestical trappings and housings are denied me. Oh, Ahab! What shall be grand in thee, it must needs be plucked at from the skies, and dived for in the deep, and featured in the unbodied air! (129-130)

Far f r o m being a democratic rejection of emperors and kings, Moby-Dick proposes a unique expansion of the monarchic principle. Ahab will earn his right to be called King Ahab, to have his meals with his three mates compared to "the Coronation banquet at Frankfort, where the German E m p e r o r profoundly dines with the seven Imperial Electors." Ahab e m bodies and realizes the ambition of the novel itself: to have a royal preeminence over European literature without borrowing anything f r o m European models of literary greatness. And yet the very condition of this success is of course a massive b o r rowing f r o m those models. T h e justification of Ahab's kingship is perhaps original and democratic; but the implicit argument for kingship itself comes f r o m abroad, and this condemns Ishmael to analogical proofs of Ahab's greatness. That is, his royal nature will be confirmed by both passing (the German emperor) and sustained (Lear) comparisons between him and other royal natures, by continuous assertions that no royal example is too high to describe him. Melville defines the idea of greatness itself—both for his book and his tragic h e r o — b y constant appeals to our cultural recognitions, thus destroying the argument for originality with its proofs. O r , to put this another way, originality turns out to be n o t h ing more than multiplication of the same. Moby-Dick's greatness is unlike that of any other book, and Ahab's royal nature is not to be thought of as comparable to that of other kings and emperors precisely because they can be compared to so many other books and kings. Originality occurs, as it were, after a certain threshold of absorption has been passed, and Moby-Dick's cultural encyclopedism is a peculiarly American attempt to quantify quality, to produce originality through mass. Once again we are forced to recognize the novel's o x y m o r o n i c argument: democracy p r o duces the greatest kings, and analogy authenticates originality. T h u s Melville wins his argument for Ahab by destroying the very reason for making the argument in the first place: the unassimilable, unrecuperable uniqueness of the democratic personality. If the democratic ideas of intrinsic worth, and of equal opportunity to

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assert that worth, are shown to have oligarchic consequences, these consequences are also vindicated in the novel's metaphysical terms. Although Ahab's monomania is most explicitly defined as his transferring the idea of (and, in an even madder way, the responsibility for) "all evil" to M o b y Dick, there are hints in the novel that he may also see the whale in terms closer to those used by Ishmael in the central chapter on " T h e Whiteness of the Whale." Then M o b y Dick would not only e m b o d y "that intangible malignity which has been f r o m the beginning" (160); m o r e subtly, and more terrifyingly, he would figure the absence of any intentionality whatsoever outside the h u m a n mind. This, as we shall shortly see, is the basis for what I will call the crisis of interpretation in Moby-Dick. Ahab's defiant invocation to fire in " T h e Candles" best indicates this shift of metaphysical emphasis: "In the midst of the personified impersonal, a personality stands here. T h o u g h but a point at best; whencesoe'er I came; whereso'er I go; yet while I earthly live, the queenly personality lives in me, and feels her royal rights" (417). From this perspective, the pursuit of M o b y Dick is perhaps less mad; it is precisely because the whale is, as Starbuck says, merely a d u m b brute that its power to do so much harm is intolerable. It may unintentionally destroy. To be attacked by the whale is not to encounter an enemy; rather, as Ahab at least suggests, it is to have the catastrophic experience of personality's contingency in the universe. Even more intolerable than M o b y Dick's intelligent malignity would be its lack of any design at all, for then Ahab's pursuit would be a madly (and comically) incongruous motivation in a universe where purely physical laws govern the movements and meetings of objects. Ahab's assertion of personality—even more, his assertion of royal prerogatives for his "queenly personality"—would then be at once senseless and heroic, a necessarily unheard protest against his having been t h r o w n into the w r o n g universe, against this universe's metaphysical uncongeniality. Self-assertion is, then, vindicated in Moby-Dick as the most p r o f o u n d manifestation of a metaphysical pathos. T h e value given to personality in a democratic society might be thought of as the political corollary of the novel's philosophical bias in favor of political and metaphysical and literary self-assertions. Against those aristocratic societies w h e r e individual personality is largely irrelevant to a hierarchy of power determined by inherited privileges and reinforced by external arts and embellishments, Melville argues for a society (if not a universe) where the individual personality counts, indeed is determinant, in the distribution of power. But it is the very assertion of the rights of self which risks destroying those conditions allowing for it in the first place. In the terms of an unrelenting logic enacted by Moby-Dick, democracy ultimately promises the unintended and politically tragic consequence of its o w n

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e x t i n c t i o n . M e l v i l l e p e r s u a s i v e l y e x p r e s s e s t h e thrill o f t h e d e m o c r a t i c p r o m i s e , b o t h f o r t h e i n d i v i d u a l a n d f o r l i t e r a t u r e , b u t t h a t thrill is p e r haps inseparable f r o m the prospect of unlimited power. T h e excitement about A h a b in Moby-Dick is p r o v o k e d b y t h e spectacle o f w h a t m i g h t b e called a n e a r n e d d e s p o t i s m . T h e Pequod is t h e social realization o f a fantasy of intrinsic kingship. T h e o p p o r t u n i t y for self-expression and s e l f - a s s e r t i o n in a d e m o c r a t i c s o c i e t y is, Melville's n o v e l s u g g e s t s , e x i s tentially t r a n s l a t e d as a w i l l t o p o w e r ; d e s p o t i s m is t h e social l o g i c w i t h i n an a r g u m e n t f o r t h e r i g h t s o f p e r s o n a l i t y . *

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B u t w e also h a v e I s h m a e l a n d t h e Pequod's c r e w . A n o t h e r t y p e o f s o c i e t y i s — o r so it a p p e a r s — c o n s t i t u t e d in t h e m a r g i n s o f A h a b ' s rule. T h e r e s e e m s to b e a social space in Moby-Dick o u t s i d e t h e circle o f f a s c i n a t e d s u b j u g a t i o n t o A h a b ' s m o n o m a n i a . A n d this space w o u l d b e d e f i n e d b y a k i n d o f d e m o c r a t i c c a m a r a d e r i e in s h a r e d w o r k . 5 T h e r e is, f o r e x a m p l e , the convivial a t m o s p h e r e d u r i n g the hoisting, cutting, and lowering of t h e w h a l e ' s b l u b b e r , a task a c c o m p a n i e d b y f r a t e r n a l s w e a r i n g a n d t h e t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o f p a r t o f t h e c r e w i n t o a " w i l d " o p e r a t i c c h o r u s . See especially t h e f a m o u s d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e m e n s q u e e z i n g l u m p s o f s p e r m b a c k i n t o fluid, an a c t i v i t y t h a t frees I s h m a e l " f r o m all ill-will, o r p e t u lance, o r m a l i c e o f a n y s o r t w h a t s o e v e r " : Squeeze! squeeze! squeeze! all the morning long; I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me; and I found myself unwittingly squeezing m y colaborers' hands in it, mistaking their hands for the gentle globules. Such an abounding, affectionate, friendly, loving feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I was continually squeezing their hands, and looking up into their eyes sentimentally; as much as to say,—Oh! m y dear fellow beings, w h y should we longer cherish any social acerbitics, or know the slightest illh u m o r or envy! Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness. (348-349) T h e f r a t e r n a l w a r m t h e n g e n d e r e d b y this c o m m u n a l a c t i v i t y s e e m s t o b e t h e b e s t a n t i d o t e t o A h a b ' s m a d isolation. It is, in t e r m s o f t h e b o o k ' s m a j o r m e t a p h o r i c a l o p p o s i t i o n , a r e t u r n f r o m t h e d a n g e r s o f sea t o t h e security of land. Ishmael goes on to interpret w h a t he has j u s t described in precisely s u c h t e r m s . H a v i n g l e a r n e d t h a t " m a n m u s t e v e n t u a l l y l o w e r , o r at least shift, his c o n c e r t o f a t t a i n a b l e felicity; n o t p l a c i n g it a n y w h e r e in t h e intellect o r t h e f a n c y ; b u t in t h e w i f e , t h e h e a r t , t h e b e d , t h e table, t h e saddle, t h e fire-side, t h e c o u n t r y , " h e is " r e a d y t o s q u e e z e case e t e r n a l l y " (349). B u t this is a t a m e a n d p i o u s c o n c l u s i o n t o w h a t w e h a v e j u s t read, a n d it is d i f f i c u l t to see w h a t w i f e , fireside, a n d c o u n t r y

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have to do w i t h the " s t r a n g e sort of insanity" that leads I s h m a e l — m a d e d r u n k by the touch of " t h o s e soft, gentle globules of infiltrated tissues" and the " u n c o n t a m i n a t e d a r o m a " of " t h a t inexpressible s p e r m " — t o b e gin squeezing his c o m r a d e s ' hands and gazing " s e n t i m e n t a l l y " into their eyes, d r e a m i n g of an ecstatic loss of self in a universal melting squeeze. I don't m e a n simply that the need to place happiness in w i f e and fireside seems a strangely inappropriate lesson to be d r a w n f r o m such an o b v i ously h o m o e r o t i c experience, b u t rather that the h o m o e r o t i c i s m itself is merely the secondary expression of a comically anarchic sensuality. Ishmael's coworkers allow for the m o m e n t a r y focusing and socializing of a sensuality that is so idiosyncratic, so frankly irreducible to any viable social b o n d — i n Ishmael's o w n w o r d s , so insane—that it can only be described—accommodated by l a n g u a g e — a s a j o k e . T h e j o k e is e m p h a sized b y the corny, decidedly n o n p i o u s vision at the end of the passage: "In visions of the night, I saw l o n g r o w s of angels in paradise, each w i t h his hands in a j a r of spermaceti." M u c h has been m a d e of h o m o e r o t i c i s m in Moby-Dick, and this is n o t astonishing in view of the novel's hints in this direction. 6 T h e m a j o r piece of presumed evidence is of course the I s h m a e l - Q u e e q u e g relation, in w h i c h Ishmael seems not at all reluctant to portray himself as the h u g e savage's contented wife. O n the one hand, as a couple Ishmael and Q u e e queg b o t h prefigure and personalize the fraternal feelings in such tasks as cutting into the whale's blubber and reconverting its s p e r m into liquid. O n the other hand, Ishmael gives a highly eroticized account o f the friendship. A f t e r their first night together in the same bed at the Spouter Inn in N e w B e d f o r d , Ishmael awakes to find Q u e e q u e g ' s a r m t h r o w n over h i m "in the m o s t loving and affectionate m a n n e r , " as if he " h a d been his w i f e " and were being held in a " b r i d e g r o o m clasp" ( 3 2 - 3 3 ) . T h e next night they seal their friendship, once again in bed, w i t h " c o n fidential disclosures," just as m a n and w i f e often choose their bed to " o p e n the very b o t t o m of their souls to each o t h e r . " " T h u s , t h e n , " this passage ends, "in o u r hearts' h o n e y m o o n , lay I and Q u e e q u e g — a cosy, loving pair" (54). D u r i n g the voyage, w h e n they are b o t h tied to the same m o n k e y rope (in the " h u m o r o u s l y perilous business" of Q u e e queg's going over the side of the ship to insert a blubber h o o k into the whale's back, w h e r e he m u s t remain d u r i n g the w h o l e stripping o p e r a tion), they are n o t simply "inseparable t w i n b r o t h e r [ s ] " b u t are " f o r the time . . . w e d d e d " (271). T h e r e is n o ambiguity w h a t s o e v e r in all these eroticizing allusions. T h e y clearly instruct us to think of the b o n d between Ishmael and Q u e e queg as not unlike marital b o n d s , and it can be argued that they d o this w i t h n o suggestion of h o m o s e x u a l desire. I say this s o m e w h a t tentatively because we m i g h t also say that h o m o s e x u a l desire is precisely w h a t is

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signified b y t h o s e c o n j u g a l signifiers. B u t w h e r e exactly is t h e signified? Is t h e r e a subject of h o m o s e x u a l desire in Moby-Dick? Far f r o m r e p r e s e n t ing either u n e q u i v o c a l h o m o s e x u a l i t y o r surfaces o f h e t e r o s e x u a l desire t r o u b l e d b y repressed h o m o s e x u a l impulses, Melville's characters have n o sexual subjectivity at all. Critics readily a d m i t h o w little t h e w h o l l y i m p r o b a b l e soliloquies of Melville's characters c o n f o r m t o the discursive p a r a m e t e r s o f realistic fiction; they have m o r e difficulty r e c o g n i z i n g that t h o s e soliloquies adequately represent t h e essence o f t h e characters. I n feriority in Moby-Dick is a l m o s t entirely philosophical; each character is a certain confluence of metaphysical, epistemological, and social-ethical positions. H o m o e r o t i c i s m can enter the novel so easily because, p s y c h o logically, there is n o t h i n g at stake. In Balzac, Gide, and P r o u s t , h o m o sexual desire is a fact of great psychological significance, w h e r e a s it m a y be a peculiarity o f A m e r i c a n l i t e r a t u r e — C o o p e r , T w a i n , and H e m i n g way c o m e to m i n d — t h a t it f r e q u e n t l y presents h o m o s e x u a l situations that are psychologically inconsequential, u n c o n n e c t e d to characterization. Ishmael's marital m e t a p h o r s reveal n o t h i n g a b o u t h i m bccause t h e r e is n o w h e r e in t h e novel an Ishmael a b o u t w h o m such m e t a p h o r s can b e revealing. T h i s does n o t m e a n that they are u n i m p o r t a n t : their v e r y significance d e p e n d s o n not p r o v i d i n g an intelligible alternative to Ahab's d e s p o t i s m . Each t i m e t h e novel spells o u t any such alternative, it is in t e r m s that d o little m o r e than negatively repeat w h a t they o p p o s e . T h u s t h e land is o p p o s e d to t h e sea, a n d Ahab's u n h a p p y solitude is set against t h e quiet j o y o f d o m e s t i c ties. S t a r b u c k is the principal advocate o f intelligible alternatives to A h a b , such as w i f e and family, the land, fraternal c o m p a s sion, and a d e m o c r a t i c respect for t h e rights of o t h e r s . B u t if A h a b ' s tyrannical rule enacts t h e u l t i m a t e logic of t h e privileges that d e m o c r a c y w o u l d accord personality, then perhaps t h e v e r y principle of o p p o s i t i o n a l couplings c a n n o t be trusted. O n l y s o m e t h i n g that does n o t enter i n t o logical o p p o s i t i o n can be " o p p o s e d " to A h a b . Politically this m e a n s that in o r d e r to escape t h e a n t i d e m o c r a t i c consequences i n h e r e n t in t h e d e m o cratic ideal, a t y p e of social relation m u s t be i m a g i n e d that is n e i t h e r autocratic n o r d e m o c r a t i c . Ishmael's r e s p o n s e to Q u e e q u e g and the c r e w is the testing o f this o t h e r relation, a l t h o u g h each t i m e he tries to analyze it he also banalizes it, as in the Starbuck-like contrast b e t w e e n the intellect and the fireside. B u t , j u s t as Ishmael's insane ecstasy w h i l e squeezing b l o b s o f s p e r m is irreducible to any o f these t e r m s , so t h e i n t r o d u c t i o n o f h o m o e r o t i c i s m i n t o t h e novel prevents his representation of Q u e e q u e g and t h e c r e w f r o m b e i n g o n e o f a society united in t h e b o n d s of f r i e n d s h i p created b y c o m m u n a l w o r k . This h o m o e r o t i c i s m , h o w e v e r , never settles i n t o w h a t

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w o u l d be merely a n o t h e r t y p e o f o p p o s i t i o n a l g r o u p i n g . B y f i g u r i n g w h a t I have called a n o n p s y c h o l o g i c a l h o m o s e x u a l i t y , Melville p r o p o s e s a social b o n d based n o t on s u b o r d i n a t i o n t o the great personality e m b o d ied b y A h a b , n o t o n the d e m o c r a t i c ideal o f p o w e r d i s t r i b u t e d a c c o r d i n g to intrinsic w o r t h , n o t on t h o s e feelings b i n d i n g either t w o friends o r t h e partners in a marriage, n o t , finally, o n the transgressed h o m a g e t o all such legitimated social b o n d s in c o n v e n t i o n a l i m a g e s o f h o m o s e x u a l desire. (Proust serves as a g o o d e x a m p l e of the h o m o s e x u a l w r i t e r u n able, f o r the m o s t part, to account f o r his o w n desires e x c e p t as t r a n s g r e s sive replications of t h e socially accepted b o n d s they only superficially exclude.) T h e casual h u m o r of b o t h the early section o n Ishmael's " m a r r i a g e " to Q u c e q u c g and t h e description o f s p e r m squeezing helps to t r a n s f o r m t h e representation of b o t h f r i e n d s h i p and h o m o e r o t i c i s m into an i n c o n c e i v able social b o n d . In so d o i n g it evokes, in an u n e x p e c t e d way, the o r i g i nality of A m e r i c a n society, w h i c h Melville is b o t h attached t o a n d u n a b l e t o describe. Ishmael's h u m o r is a way o f s i m u l t a n e o u s l y p r o p o s i n g a n d w i t h d r a w i n g definitions and identifications, of u s i n g w h a t are, after all, the only available categories, social and linguistic, to coax i n t o existence as yet unavailable t e r m s . E v e n t h e m o s t i n a p p r o p r i a t e descriptions can serve this dislocating f u n c t i o n . T h u s , t h o u g h I m a y have b e e n r i g h t t o a r g u e that the reference to wife, heart, a n d fireside is a t a m i n g irrelevance in the s q u e e z i n g - s p e r m chapter, t h e t e r m s also d i s t u r b i n g l y suggest an u n f o r m u l a t e d relation b e t w e e n a kind o f anarchic sensuality a n d a s o cially viable domesticity. Similarly, far f r o m b e i n g a parodistic v e r sion of n o r m a l m a r r i a g e or a d o m e s t i c a t i n g of h o m o s e x u a l b o n d s , t h e I s h m a e l - Q u e e q u e g m a r r i a g e enacts a sensuality that c a n n o t be r e d u c e d t o the p s y c h o l o g y of either heterosexual o r h o m o s e x u a l desire, a s e n s u ality at once n o n t r a n s g r e s s i v e and authorized b y n o t h i n g b e y o n d I s h mael's m o d e of addressing it. Lest this begin t o s o u n d like an a r g u m e n t f o r the socially u n t h r e a t e n ing n a t u r e of h o m o e r o t i c i s m , I w a n t to insist o n the absepce of a u t h o r ization. Melville m a k e s it clear that t h e society in w h i c h these n e w relations are b e i n g tested is a society w h o l l y outside society. F r o m t h e very first pages, g o i n g to sea is presented as a letting g o o f all social, conceptual, and sexual familiarity. T h e first chapter o f Moby-Dick is an e x t r a o r d i n a r i l y h a u n t i n g invocation of s e a g o i n g as a " s u b s t i t u t e f o r pistol a n d b a l l , " a deliberate r e m o v a l f r o m life itself. A w h o l e city is t r a n s f o r m e d i n t o a collective suicidal l o n g i n g w h e n Ishmael e v o k e s t h o u s a n d s o f m e n " p o s t e d like silent sentinels all a r o u n d t h e t o w n " a n d " f i x e d in ocean reveries." We should k e e p in m i n d this p o w e r f u l l y oneiric i m a g e of a h u m a n i t y t h r o n g i n g "just as nigh the w a t e r as they possibly can

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w i t h o u t falling i n , " anxious to a b a n d o n the ship of society for the m a g netizing and original death promised by the sea. T h e first chapter clearly warns us n o t to consider any b o n d s or fellowship that may develop or, in the case of Ishmael or Q u e e q u e g , be c o n f i r m e d o n b o a r d the Pequod as compatible w i t h the society of the land. Is the Pequod, to the extent that it functions outside Ahab's d o m i n a tion, the i m a g e of an authentically democratic w o r k society? P e r h a p s — b u t the w o r k f o r c e is constituted b y a h y b r i d collection of exiles and outcasts. N o t only does the biblical n a m e b y w h i c h the narrator invites the reader to address h i m in the novel's first line resonate w i t h such c o n notations; the latter aptly describe the crew of the Pequod. Ishmael's e m phasis on all the countries and races represented on the ship invites us to see the crew as a kind of international fraternity of m e n united in h a r m o n i o u s and useful w o r k . B u t there is an equally s t r o n g emphasis o n the wild, u n t u t o r e d , asocial nature of the m e n in that fraternity. " T h e y w e r e nearly all Islanders in the P e q u o d . Isolates too, I call such, not a c k n o w l edging the c o m m o n continent of men, b u t each Isolato living o n a separate continent of his o w n " (108). It is, as Starbuck says, "a heathen c r e w . . . whelped s o m e w h e r e by the sharkish sea" (148), a crew, as Ishmael puts it, "chiefly m a d e u p of m o n g r e l renegades, and castaways, and cannibals" (162). Indeed whalers in general are "floating o u t l a w s , " m a n n e d b y "unaccountable o d d s and ends of strange nations c o m e u p f r o m the u n k n o w n n o o k s and ash-holes of the e a r t h " (198). Ishmael himself m u s t be t h o u g h t of as belonging to that g r o u p ; he is its expression. 7 H e is so casual in his dismissals of o r d i n a r y a s s u m p t i o n s about social b o n d s that w e may easily miss his readiness to reject the values of the land. " F o r m y p a r t , " he announces in chapter one, "I a b o m i n a t e all h o n o r a b l e respectable toils, trials, and tribulations of every kind w h a t s o e v e r . " In context, this is playfully perverse hyperbole; b u t it also belongs to w h a t a m o u n t s to a systematic rejection of the civilized ethics of a democratic and Christian land society. H o n o r a b l e respectable toils are abominated; the chapter on Fast-Fish and Loose-Fish is a S w i f t ean m o c k e r y of legal systems in w h i c h rights to o w n e r s h i p are o f t e n identical to the brute force necessary to claim possession; and C h r i s t i anity itself is implicitly dismissed in the c o m p a r i s o n of images of physical " r o b u s t n e s s " in art ("in everything i m p o s i n g l y beautiful, s t r e n g t h has m u c h to d o w i t h the magic") to " t h e soft, curled, hermaphroditical Italian pictures" of Christ, w h i c h " h i n t n o t h i n g of any p o w e r , b u t the mere negative, feminine one of submission and endurance, w h i c h o n all hands it is conceded, f o r m the peculiar practical virtue of his t e a c h i n g " (315). T h e Pequod is not, however, a reconstitution of politics, morality, or religious beliefs on s o m e p r e s u m a b l y m o r e natural basis. Q u e e q u e g ' s

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religion is as unsatisfactory as Christianity, and Ishmael's infinite tolerance, far f r o m being grounded in a faith where tolerance is preached as a virtue, merely expresses his unwillingness to be intolerant in the name of any faith whatsoever. N o r is Ishmael willing to swear allegiance to the Pequod's society of savages as a type of social organization. "I myself am a savage, owning to no allegiance but to the King of the Cannibals, and ready at any m o m e n t to rebel against h i m " (232). Is the Pequod an image of America? 8 It is the settlement of America reenacted, but uncompromisingly radicalized. T h e "unaccountable odds and ends" f r o m all over the world w h o ended up in America were of course not only castaways and cannibals; nor were they all, for that m a t ter, unaccountable. But by insisting on the Pequod's nearly total break with the land and the past, Melville simultaneously evokes the origins of America as a house for exiles f r o m everywhere and makes those origins absolute. That is, he evokes the possibility of exile as a wholly n e w beginning and brutally deprives it of the comforting notion of loss. There is no dream that has been frustrated, no second chance for forms of life imagined, but then blocked in their realization, somewhere else. T h e sea is wildness and anarchy; it opposes to both Ahab's despotism and the democratic vision a kind of social suicide. Thus Melville's novel dreams metaphorically o f t h a t absolute break with Europe which of course never took place, of a risky willingness to " c o m e to America" with no social vision at all, with nothing but an anxious need to die to society and to history. Far f r o m fulfilling a European dream, America would therefore have to be invented by those "thousands u p o n thousands of mortal m e n " w h o at first wanted nothing m o r e than to flee f r o m the land but w h o , having joined the crew of exiles and renegades f r o m all over the hated world, n o w find themselves suspended in their dying and are obliged to redefine the social itself. I have argued that, principally through Ahab, Moby-Dick dramatizes the o x y m o r o n i c impasse of democracy: the great man's despotism realizes the democratic dream of equality. But Moby-Dick also reinvents that politically infernal rhetoric as a political promise: it dreams a society o w ing nothing whatsoever to k n o w n social ideas. What this society after social death might actually be, we can say no more than Melville (or Ishmael) himself can. What can be said is only what has already been said, and Ishmael's way of coercing all that used speech into unimagined significances is to withdraw h u m o r o u s l y f r o m nearly all his propositions. He can say what he means only by refusing to mean what he says. America's history will take place in the space at once cluttered and blank where all imaginable social bonds have been simultaneously figured and dissolved. Melville's America is a historical m e t a - o x y m o r o n : it defeats

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t h e defeating o x y m o r o n of a d e m o c r a c y r u i n e d b y t h e f u l f i l l m e n t o f its o w n p r o m i s e b y erasing all p r o m i s e s in o r d e r to m a k e t h e w h o l l y u n a u thorized p r o m i s e of an absolutely n e w society. *

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T h e representation of Melville's A m e r i c a is thus inseparable f r o m a crisis o f m e a n i n g . O n t h e o n e h a n d , the i n t e r p r e t i v e faculty is associated w i t h m a d n e s s . It is n o t only that "all evil" is personified in M o b y D i c k , b u t also that A h a b sees evil o m e n s and p o r t e n t s e v e r y w h e r e . T h e m a s s o f i n f o r m a t i o n given to us a b o u t whales and w h a l i n g is o b v i o u s l y d e s i g n e d to counteract this madness; here the encyclopedia f u n c t i o n s as an antid o t e to overreading, as a s o u r c e of reliable facts, as a c o m f o r t a b l e and necessary m y t h o f a collection o f k n o w l e d g e unaffected b y the collector's passions. " S o i g n o r a n t are m o s t l a n d s m a n o f s o m e of t h e plainest a n d m o s t palpable w o n d e r s of the w o r l d , that w i t h o u t s o m e hints t o u c h i n g t h e plain facts, historical a n d o t h e r w i s e , of the fishery they m i g h t s c o u t at M o b y D i c k as a m o n s t r o u s fable, o r still w o r s e and m o r e detestable, a h i d e o u s a n d intolerable a l l e g o r y " (177). B u t this is s o m e w h a t d i s i n g e n u o u s . T h e m o s t persistent a n d e x t r a v a gant sign reader in the novel is Ishmael. His allegorical w i s d o m , it is true, is of fairly m o d e s t quality; n o r does he hesitate to m o c k it himself. W h a t is interesting, as o t h e r s have n o t e d , is the interpretive habit itself or, m o r e strangely, the inability to stop reading, even t h o u g h t h e o b j e c t to be read m a y be unreadable. Moby-Dick is full of e n i g m a t i c texts. First and f o r e m o s t , there is t h e w h a l e , b o t h as a species and in its i n d i v i d u a l features a n d behavior. T h e r e is also the d o u b l o o n , w i t h its " s t r a n g e f i g ures and inscriptions"; in chapter 99, A h a b , S t a r b u c k , S t u b b , Flask, the M a n x m a n , Q u e e q u e g , Fedallah, and Pip all p e r f o r m i n t e r p r e t i v e l y — p r o d u c i n g little m o r e than self-characterizations—in f r o n t o f t h e g o l d coin. If A h a b interprets " i n s o m e m o n o m a n i a c w a y w h a t e v e r significance m i g h t l u r k " in t h e d o u b l o o n ' s m a r k i n g s , " s o m e certain signific a n c e , " Ishmael nonetheless adds, " l u r k s in all things, else all t h i n g s are little w o r t h , and the r o u n d w o r l d itself b u t an e m p t y cipher, e x c e p t t o sell b y the cartload, as they d o hills a b o u t B o s t o n , t o fill u p s o m e m o r a s s in the M i l k y W a y " (358). E v e n Q u e e q u e g ' s t a t o o s arc described as h i e r o glyphics c o n t a i n i n g "a c o m p l e t e t h e o r y o f t h e heavens a n d t h e earth, a mystical treatise o n the art o f attaining t r u t h " ; a n d l o o k i n g at that u n solvable riddle, A h a b w i l d l y exclaims: " ' O h , devilish tantalization of t h e g o d s ! ' " (399). M o s t r e m a r k a b l y , h o w e v e r tragically f r u s t r a t e d o r h u m o r ously tentative all such readings m a y be, t h e v e r y c o u r s e o f events in t h e novel spectacularly c o n f i r m s t h e p o w e r o f reading. N o t o n l y d o all t h e o m e n s and p o r t e n t s t u r n o u t to be o m e n s and p o r t e n t s of w h a t actually h a p p e n s to the Pequod and its crew; Elijah's dire p r o p h e c y also accurately

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prefigures the voyage's tragic end ( ' " G o o d bye to ye. Shan't see ye again very soon, I guess; unless it's before the Grand J u r y ' " [91]); and the demonic Fedallah's prediction—one doesn't even k n o w what text he reads—of how he and Ahab will die is fulfilled with uncanny precision. Moby-Dick is a chaos of interpretive modes. As a drama of interpretation, Melville's novel appears to center on Ahab. But Ahab represents only one type of interpretive activity, and in a sense it is the crudest and the easiest to discredit. For him, M o b y Dick is a symbol of evil that, in its vicious attacks, fittingly partakes of the nature of what it symbolizes. Ahab is guilty of a double mistake of logic: he unjustifiably infers an agent or course of evil f r o m the observable phenomenon of h u m a n " s u f ferings and exasperations," and then he identifies a possible manifestation of that evil with its essence. Having done that, he—and with him n o w the crew—begins to see all things as signs. Although the symbolic reading is particular to Ahab (nothing indicates that the crew shares Ahab's philosophically sophisticated madness of attributing the sum of h u m a n woes to the whale they are chasing), a degraded f o r m of symbolic interpretation manifests itself as the superstition of signs. Instead of symbols, we have portents: the darting away of "shoals of small harmless fish . . . with what seemed shuddering fins," the "tri-painted trinity of flames" when the ship's three masts are set on fire by lightning during the typhoon, and the seizing of Ahab's hat f r o m his head by a savage sea hawk. Symbolism is a vertical m o d e of interpretation (Moby Dick is transcended by the metaphysical reality he points to), but the ominous sign can be thought of as a m e t o n y m i c slip. It is as if part of a pattern of catastrophe had been detached f r o m the pattern and moved ahead of its realization in time. T h e omen announces the events to which it belongs; it is the beginning of a catastrophe that has not yet begun. There is, more generally, the interpretation of the entire novel as a philosophical parable in which going to sea figures the risky m o v e m e n t of speculative thought, of thought unanchored, set loose f r o m all evidential " l a n d " securities. I also spoke earlier of the interpretive analogies meant to authenticate Melville's " m i g h t y t h e m e . " T h e very syntax of analogy ("just as . . . so . . . ") suggests the equal status of this strange and isolated incident in the annals of whaling and the most memorable m o m e n t s of h u m a n history and culture. Finally, the local descriptive metaphor in Moby-Dick can even work in the opposite direction, to n o r malize and domesticate the drama aboard the Pequod. In describing the crew's transfixed horror when, during a lightning storm, the ends of the three tall masts catch fire and silently burn "like three gigantic wax tapers before an altar," Ishmael writes: " F r o m the arched and overhanging rigging, where they had just been engaged securing a spar, a n u m b e r of the seamen, arrested by the glare, n o w cohered together, and h u n g pendu-

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lous, like a k n o t of n u m b e d wasps f r o m a d r o o p i n g , orchard t w i g " (415-416). T h i s astonishing c o m p a r i s o n assimilates a m o m e n t of crazy panic on the Pequod to an o r d i n a r y rural scene, and in so d o i n g it casually naturalizes m e l o d r a m a , m a k i n g the sailor's terror i n t o — a s k i n g us to read their terror a s — s o m e t h i n g as unexceptional as i m m o b i l e wasps o n a t w i g . T h u s the m o s t m e l o d r a m a t i c of scenes is domesticated, and the exceptional scenes of h u m a n tragedy are reintegrated into the vast tableau of nature, w h e r e relations may be constituted by n o t h i n g m o r e m e a n i n g ful than the visual resemblance between t w o distant points in space. Ishmael's principal function is, however, less to add to interpretive m o d e s than to be the hermeneutical g r o u n d of all m o d e s of interpretation. T h a t is, he defines the conditions of possibility for all interpretive activity in Moby-Dick, and w e can define that condition as Ishmael's i n validating tolerance of the search for meanings. If the interpretive process cannot be stopped, if the novel is a relentless, nearly grotesque c o m p u l sion to read significance into all objects and events (a c o m p u l s i o n r a n g i n g f r o m Ahab's m a d s y m b o l i s m to Ishmael's allegorizing speculations on the thickness of the whale's blubber), Ishmael's h u m o r simultaneously w i t h draws all credibility f r o m the sense he ceaselessly proposes. T h u s the principal question w e face in reading this encyclopedic d e m o n s t r a t i o n of interpretive processes is h o w to read the d e p l o y m e n t of those processes. N e x t to that p r o b l e m , A h a b is comparatively simple to understand; indeed, his immediately recognizable tragic stance, and his m o n o m a n i a c a l madness, may delay o u r recognition of the far greater radicality of Ishmael. For the reader, the p r i m a r y enigmatic text is n o t M o b y Dick, but Ishmael's relation to the possible readings of M o b y Dick. Is there any view of the story, or any interpretive m o d e , that escapes Ishmael's repeated retreat f r o m all points of view? We m i g h t think of this retreating m o v e as o n e of irony; Ishmael's ironic h u m o r interprets interpretation b y a noncritical but n o less effectively destructive step back f r o m all interpretations. H u m o r is the tonal sign of this step; it gives a voice to that suspensive m o v e of consciousness w h i c h invalidates its objects w i t h o u t erasing t h e m , merely by reflecting t h e m at a certain distance. T h i s m o v e can, finally, consist in the erasure of the tonal sign of h u m o r itself—as in " T h e Fountain" chapter, w h i c h Ishmael ends on a serious note, stepping back f r o m the h u m o r j u s t preceding the end and m a k i n g of his very seriousness the lightest m o d e of t h o u g h t , merely another sign of c o n sciousness in retreat. T h e consequence of all this is that Moby-Dick b e c o m e s a novel u n available to the culture it still manages to define (while m a k i n g the g e n erous, even Utopian a s s u m p t i o n that such readings as the o n e I a m p r o p o s i n g are available to that culture). Melville's novel is the literary equivalent of that " d u m b blankness full of m e a n i n g " w h i c h is w h a t

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Ishmael finds so a w e s o m e in t h e whale's w h i t e n e s s . We m a y c o n t i n u e to speak of Moby-Dick (as the novel itself d e m o n s t r a t e s , criticism is u n stoppable), b u t w e can at least h o p e for an a p p r o p r i a t e l y i m p o v e r i s h e d reading, o n e that principally describes h o w t h e narrative anticipates, e n tertains, and w i t h d r a w s its assent f r o m all o u r i n t e r p r e t i v e m o v e s . T h e chapter o n " T h e Whiteness o f the W h a l e " analyzes t h e s y m p t o m s of a m i n d afflicted w i t h an o x y m o r o n i c p e r c e p t i o n of t h e universe. Reality is an infinitely m e a n i n g f u l absence o f m e a n i n g , and Moby-Dick—a novel o f metaphysical r e a l i s m — r e p e a t s that textuality in its o w n a p p a r e n t l y u n limited capacity to entertain u n a u t h o r i z e d interpretations. B u t this t y p e o f t e x t u a l i t y — i n w h i c h unreadability is identical to a limitless availabil 1 ity t o i n t e r p r e t a t i o n — m a y be the c o n d i t i o n o f the novel's originality. A m e r i c a n literature can be great n o t b y b e i n g as g o o d as o r even better than E u r o p e a n literature; it m u s t be, in t h e full force of the t e r m , i n c o m parable. T h u s Ishmael will n o t only destroy the t e r m s o f c o m p a r i s o n ; he will also invalidate the v e r y proccss of c o m p a r i s o n — t h e u n r e l e n t ing analogical h a b i t — t o w h i c h he appeals in o r d e r to validate his p r o j e c t o f w r i t i n g a " m i g h t y b o o k . " Moby-Dick o u t d o e s t h e cultural r e f e r ences it a p p r o p r i a t e s b y dismissing itself; t h e s i m u l t a n e o u s p r o p o s a l a n d erasure o f sense p r o d u c e s a b o o k bloated w i t h unaccepted sense. T h e e x t r a o r d i n a r y originality of Melville's w o r k is that it s o m e h o w s u b s i s t s — m a t e r i a l l y — a s a b o o k o r p h a n e d b y its c o n t e n t . T h e o n l y s u r v i v i n g a n a l o g y of this s h i p w r e c k of sense is the a n a l o g y w i t h A m e r i c a itself. N o t only does the Pequod's c r e w reenact t h e o r i g i n o f A m e r i c a n society as a break w i t h the v e r y idea of the social; t h e h e r m e n e u t i c suspension of every i n t e r p r e t i v e m o v e in the novel gives a k i n d of plausibility to the difficult idea o f an historical originality. 9 It suggests that t h e originality of A m e r i c a c a n n o t consist in a chimerical a b s o l u t e break w i t h its E u r o p e a n past, b u t rather in w h a t m i g h t be called an e n cyclopedic n o n e n d o r s c m e n t o f that past. In A m e r i c a , as in Melville's novel, t h e massive b o r r o w i n g f r o m o t h e r cultures is identical to a selfdistancing f r o m o t h e r cultures. Sense is b o r r o w e d w i t h o u t b e i n g s u b scribed to, and t h e v e r y indiscriminacy of t h e b o r r o w i n g s h o u l d p r o d u c e a society w i t h o u t debts, o n e that never h o l d s w h a t it nonetheless greedily takes. Moby-Dick is at once politically, aesthetically, and e c o n o m i c a l l y Utopian in that it invites A m e r i c a to dissipate its capital. T h i s is n o t , I believe, merely a n o t h e r capitalistic or liberal m y s t i f i c a t i o n : far f r o m m e r e l y offering t h e illusion o f a break w i t h established o r d e r s (an illusion so c o m f o r t i n g that it w o u l d actually w e a k e n o u r resistance to those s a m e orders), Moby-Dick p r o p o s e s n o object of loyalty or of desire except t h e c o n t i n u o u s l y repeated gesture of n o t receiving the wealth it a p p r o p r i a t e s . T h e e n c y c l o p e d i s m of Moby-Dick is, t h e n , in n o w a y r e d e m p t i v e . N e v e r u s i n g either its cetological e r u d i t i o n o r its cultural b o r r o w i n g s to

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m o n u m e n t a l i z e the truly raw materials of the American life, Melville's novel takes the same risks as the c o u n t r y it finally h o n o r s , n o t by taking the lead in w o r l d literature b u t by repeating its impoverished beginning, its Utopian negations. Moby-Dick is indeed o u r m i g h t y b o o k , n o t because it makes a w h o l e of the f r a g m e n t s of America but rather because, in its sheer massiveness, it never stops d e m o n s t r a t i n g (as if to inspire courage) the sustaining, self-renewing powers of historical and cultural orphanhood.

CHAPTER

Against

7

Ulysses

Let us approach Ulysses as naively as possible, while a d m i t t i n g that this decision can be little m o r e than a ruse. T h e ruseful naivete I have in m i n d will consist in o u r pretending n o t to have any extratextual i n f o r m a t i o n about the novel—especially i n f o r m a t i o n a b o u t Joyce's elaborate scheme of H o m e r i c correspondences and about the g e o g r a p h y and history of Ireland's capital city. In saying this, I expose o u r naivete as, precisely, a decision: it is only because w e k n o w h o w i m p o r t a n t H o m e r and D u b l i n are in Ulysses that we can refer to a reading ignorant of that i m p o r t a n c e as naive. I d o n o t mean that it is natural to read any novel in a state of cultural ignorance. I do, however, w a n t to suggest that it w o u l d n o t be naive to set a b o u t reading La Chartreuse de Parme, War and Peace, or MobyDick w i t h o u t , in the cases of Stendhal and Tolstoy, m o r e than a fairly general, nonspecialist's k n o w l e d g e of Napoleon's campaigns in B e l g i u m and Russia, and, for Melville's w o r k , cetological expertise. T h i s also means that the difficulties of these novels cannot in any way be resolved by consulting sources external to t h e m . O u r ideally u n i n f o r m e d readers of Ulysses, on the other hand, may very well be o v e r c o m e w i t h e m b a r rassment to discover, u p o n opening their first w o r k of criticism, that w h a t they had been thinking of quite simply as chapters 8 and 10 are universally referred to as " L e s t r y g o n i a n s " and " W a n d e r i n g R o c k s , " or that w h o l l y impenetrable passages have in fact the m o s t satisfying transparency to cognoscenti, say, of nineteenth-century records of Gaelic legends or of theater p r o g r a m s and journalistic faits divers in t u r n - o f - t h e century D u b l i n . Naivete, t h e n — w h e n it is not the sophisticated and artificial l u x u r y I p r o p o s e w e briefly e n j o y — b e c o m e s a retroactive j u d g m e n t : h o w could I have read Ulysses w i t h o u t at least trying to exploit the clue provided b y the novel's title, a n d — w h a t is even m o r e h u m i l i a t i n g — h o w could I have mistaken cryptic or truncated allusions to the minutiae of D u b l i n life a r o u n d 1900 for passages of textual a m b i g u i t y or complexity? T h e title

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itself, in addition t o f u r n i s h i n g an i m p o r t a n t cluc, is after all also a clear w a r n i n g against t h e perils of innocence: the Latinized version o f O d y s seus alludes t o o n e of w o r l d literature's m o s t resourceful a n d w i l y heroes, a n d — a s if that weren't e n o u g h — B u c k M u l l i g a n d r a w s o u r a t t e n t i o n o n t h e novel's v e r y first page to S t e p h e n D c d a l u s ' " a b s u r d n a m e , an ancient G r e e k , " 1 the n a m e , that is, of t h e c u n n i n g artificer w h o b o t h c o n s t r u c t e d a n d escaped f r o m M i n o s ' l a b y r i n t h . In short, w e have only to glance at the title and read page o n e o f Ulysses t o be f o r e w a r n e d : trickery and c u n n i n g are the novel's first c o n n o t a t i o n s , and the possibility is thus raised f r o m t h e v e r y start that those qualities n o t only b e l o n g to certain characters w i t h i n the novel b u t , m u c h m o r e significantly, that they define an authorial strategy. A n d in that case n a ivete is t a n t a m o u n t to w a l k i n g into a trap. We w o u l d t h e r e f o r e d o well to take trickery a n d c u n n i n g as h o r t a t i v e a n d n o t m e r e l y psychologically predictive c o n n o t a t i o n s : they p r o p o s e t h e ideal-reader r e s p o n s e t o Ulysses as o n e o f e x t r e m e — o r e x t r e m e l y n e r v o u s , p e r h a p s even s o m e w h a t paranoid—vigilance. T h e tensest vigilance will, h o w e v e r , allow us still to a p p r o a c h Ulysses w i t h w h a t m a y at first have seemed like d a n g e r o u s naivete. For w e m a y n o w g o o n to suspect that t h e c o n n o t a t i v e cluster o f trickery m a y itself be part of a s u p e r i o r trickery. M i g h t it be possible that Joyce wastes n o time in e n c o u r a g i n g us t o find t h e novel m o r e c o m p l i c a t e d , m o r e d e v i ous, than it actually is, a n d that a c o m p a r a t i v e l y s i m p l e a n d u n i n f o r m e d r e a d i n g m a y n o t be so i n a p p r o p r i a t e after all? A n intentionally o r u n i n tentionally naive reading of Ulysses can p e r h a p s reveal t h i n g s a b o u t t h e novel that o u r inevitable loss of readerly innocence will o b s c u r e . Since m y e m p h a s i s will be m a i n l y o n the n a t u r e and consequences o f t h e i d e ally i n f o r m e d reading of Ulysses, w c s h o u l d begin b y d o i n g j u s t i c e to t h e insights of i g n o r a n c e , the i n t e r p r e t i v e gains to be h a d f r o m the a s s u m p tion that Ulysses can be read as if it w e r e a n i n e t e e n t h - c e n t u r y realistic novel. T h o s e gains are far f r o m negligible. If w e w e r e u n a w a r e of t h e a v a n t gardist claims m a d e f o r Joyce's novel, w c w o u l d , I t h i n k , have little hesitation in s p e a k i n g o f it as a psychological w o r k , as a novel o f character. We m i g h t of c o u r s e be b o t h e r e d b y w h a t an o l d - f a s h i o n e d critical discourse has called a d i s p r o p o r t i o n b e t w e e n t h e technical m a c h i n e r y a n d t h e psychological o r " h u m a n " content, m a c h i n e r y that f r e q u e n t l y o b scures o u r v i e w of w h a t is h a p p e n i n g . 2 For it is u n d e n i a b l e that a certain t y p e of s t o r y — r a t h e r , a s t o r y tout court—has a w a k e n e d in us certain d e sires b y w h i c h the second half of t h e novel seems e m b a r r a s s e d a n d to w h i c h the m o s t chic c o n t e m p o r a r y critics o f Joyce implicitly claim t o be i m m u n e . Ulysses is an exceptionally detailed s t u d y o f c h a r a c t e r — especially o f t h e character o f L e o p o l d B l o o m , b u t also of S t e p h e n

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Dedalus, M o l l y B l o o m and even of G e r t y M a c D o w e l l , w h o appears in only o n e episode. 3 We k n o w these characters inside o u t , a n d b o t h f r o m t h e inside and f r o m the outside. T h e r e is m u c h evidence o f h o w they look to others, and l o n g sections o f internal m o n o l o g u e and free indirect style m a k e us familiar w i t h their m o s t i n t i m a t e habits of m i n d . T h e r e is even an entire e p i s o d e — " E u m a e u s " — w r i t t e n in t h e m a n n e r of B l o o m , that is, in the style he w o u l d p r e s u m a b l y use w e r e he t o t r y his h a n d at w r i t i n g (a possibility he h i m s e l f raises in this v e r y chapter). Since t h e style of " E u m a e u s " also s u g g e s t s — n o t u n p a i n f u l l y — w h y B l o o m will always prefer talking to w r i t i n g , the episode can be considered still a n o t h e r characterizing technique. T h i s v e r y late section (it is episode 16) lets the reader k n o w the character even m o r e intimately t h a n b e f o r e b y t e m p o r a r i l y t u r n i n g the n a r r a t o r into t h e d u m m y - d o u b l e o f a v e n t r i l o quistic B l o o m . H a s any fictional character ever been so c o m p l e t e l y k n o w n ? W a r m hearted, c o m m o n s e n s i c a l and u n f a n a t i c in politics a n d religion, a l o v i n g son, father, a n d even h u s b a n d , full of enterprising (if unrealized a n d i m practical) c o m m e r c i a l schemes, slightly b u t n o t u n a p p e a l i n g l y p r e t e n tious intellectually, h o r n y and a bit guilty sexually, g a r r u l o u s b u t a stylistic outsider in a city of b e s o t t e d skilled rhetoricians, p e r h a p s a bit tight-fisted b y D u b l i n p u b s t a n d a r d s ( w h e r e the o n e u n p a r d o n a b l e sin is failing to pay y o u r r o u n d ) , s o m e t h i n g of a loner (but b y n o m e a n s a rebel o r an outcast) w i t h his d a y d r e a m s of travel in e x o t i c Eastern lands, B l o o m is e m i n e n t l y appealing a n d e m i n e n t l y ordinary. In o n e of t h e e x changes that constitute the i m p e r s o n a l catechism of " I t h a c a , " B l o o m is called " E v e r y m a n o r N o m a n . " In any case, he is a Sweet M a n , a n d if Joyce has inspired a kind o f a t t a c h m e n t and anecdotal curiosity ( a b o u t h i m , a b o u t the streets of D u b l i n ) evocative of that affection f o r Jane Austen w h i c h was f o r so l o n g an obstacle t o her b e i n g t h o u g h t o f as a serious w r i t e r , it is largely because of his success in creating B l o o m . T h e Joyceans are quite a bit raunchier that the "Janeites," b u t t h e e x t r a o r d i narily p r o s p e r o u s Joyce i n d u s t r y (with o r g a n i z e d visits to t h e h o l y spots in D u b l i n and Z u r i c h ) largely d e p e n d s , as in t h e case o f Austen, o n t h e b y n o means u n f o u n d e d o r inconsiderable pleasure o f r e c o g n i t i o n . T h e B l o o m s are an identifiable couple, and it is an e x t r a o r d i n a r y t r i b u t e to Joyce's p o w e r o f realistic evocation that all t h e fancy narrative techniques of Ulysses are u n a b l e to d i m t h e vivid presence of P o l d y a n d Molly. For h o r d e s of aficionados, J u n e 16 will always be celebrated as B l o o m s d a y , and it w o u l d be n o t o n l y s n o b b i s h but critically w r o n g t o suggest that the innovative p o w e r of Joyce's novel lies in a q u e s t i o n i n g o r b r e a k d o w n o f traditional novelistic a s s u m p t i o n s a b o u t personality. ^

*

*

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B u t there are, f r o m the very beginning, certain knots, or certain gnats, in the narrative that disturb o u r relaxed reading and easy appreciation of Ulysses' r o u n d e d characters. M u c h of the novel's difficulty, especially in the early sections, is the result not of o u r having to learn to think a b o u t novelistic names (such as Stephen Dedalus and Leopold B l o o m ) in nonpsychological terms, b u t rather of the u n c o m p r o m i s i n g nature of the m i m e t i c techniques. A n " a c c u r a t e " rendering of a character's consciousness presumably requires that the narrator do n o t h i n g to help us f o l l o w the moves of that consciousness. C o n f r o n t e d w i t h characters at once vivid and obscure, the reader may be inspired to take on the exegetical task of reducing the obscurity, of getting to k n o w B l o o m , Molly, or Stephen even better by c o m p l e t i n g their sentences and explaining their allusions. Far f r o m destroying a mimetic effect that may seem to d e p e n d on a certain degree of maintained obscurity in the recorded consciousness, exegesis in this case is itself a secondary m i m e t i c technique: a certain type of textual research is experienced as an investigation into real lives. T h u s we are required to complete the portraits of B l o o m and Stephen, an activity that includes but is very little threatened by the perception of their absorption into a variety of alien styles and nonrepresentational techniques. Indeed, i n j o y c e a n criticism the m o s t sophisticated technical analysis c o m f o r t a b l y cohabits w i t h the m o s t naive reading. J o h n Paul Riquelme's intelligent and t h o r o u g h study of mimetically disruptive techniques in Ulysses apparently intensified his affection for B l o o m . In the midst of the m o s t trenchant, n o - n o n s e n s e p o i n t - o f - v i e w analyses, Riquelme frequently praises B l o o m as a m a n w h o avoids extremes, o n e w h o "perceives w h a t Boylan is blind to: a basis for h u m a n action in concern for others rather than primarily in self-interest." 4 Is there n o relation between elaborate analysis of Ulysses as pure linguistic effects and a type of psychological and moral appreciation already m a d e o b s o lete by the N e w Criticism of half a century ago? M y point is, o f course, that the relation is only t o o clear, and that Joyce's avant-gardism largely consists in forcing his readers to complete the rear-guard action that the novel itself simultaneously p e r f o r m s and elaborately disguises. Filling in the blanks of consciousness is, however, only part of the game, a l t h o u g h n o n e of the m o r e sophisticated moves into w h i c h Joyce maneuvers us will seriously u n d e r m i n e the traditional view of h u m a n identity that Ulysses defends. T h e novel is full of w h a t has rather curiously been called stylistic intrusions, as if literature were ever a n y t h i n g but j u s t that. M o s t frequently, these intrusions take the f o r m of discontinuities or inconsistencies of point of view. I have in m i n d passages w h e r e B l o o m abruptly begins to think w i t h stylistic resources o b v i o u s l y not his, as well as those other m o m e n t s w h e n , as H u g h Kenner puts it,

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" t h e n o r m a l l y neutral narrative v o c a b u l a r y [is p e r v a d e d b y ] a little cloud of i d i o m s w h i c h a character m i g h t use if h e w e r e m a n a g i n g t h e n a r r a t i v e , " 5 or, finally, w h e n different characters' p o i n t s of v i e w are briefly m e r g e d . T h e celebrated perspectival j o l t s a n d m e r g e r s of Ulysses include the p a r a g r a p h in " N a u s i c a a " that a b a n d o n s B l o o m ' s limited angle o f v i sion and takes us o n a p a n o r a m i c t o u r of the entire H o w t h n e i g h b o r h o o d , the n a m e distortions in "Scylla a n d C h a r y b d i s " ( w h i c h m a y be Stephen's mental horseplay w i t h his c o m p a n i o n s ' n a m e s or the f o o l i n g a r o u n d of a lexically ebullient narrator), and, in " S i r e n s , " the subtle i n vasion o f B l o o m ' s consciousness b y musicalizing tics of t h e d o m i n a n t narrative style (alliterations, verbal echoes, staccato r h y t h m s ) . 6 All o f this has m a d e of Joyce o n e of the darlings o f that b r a n c h of n a r r a t o l o g y obsessed w i t h origins, w i t h d e t e r m i n i n g w h e r e n a r r a t o r s are located, over w h o s e s h o u l d e r they m a y be speaking, f r o m w h a t t e m p o r a l perspective and in w h o s e voice they address us. In its m o r e a m b i t i o u s manifestations, this school o f literary analysis m o v e s f r o m p a r ticular literary w o r k s to the devising o f a master plan o f possible narrative p o i n t s o f v i e w — a m o d e l that can then serve in f u t u r e readings. W i t h a w r i t e r as pcrspectivally shifty as Joyce, w e can easily i m a g i n e h o w h a n d y , and h o w c o m f o r t i n g , such p o c k e t codes o f narrative perspective can be. N o w he's there and n o w he's not; p o i n t - o f - v i e w analysis is the l i t e r a r y criticism version of hide a n d seek. It is the p a r a n o i d r e s p o n s e to w h a t m i g h t be called the irreducibility of voice in literature to locations and identities. If p o i n t - o f - v i e w criticism is intent o n g e t t i n g e v e r y t h i n g straight, o n p u t t i n g the literary h o u s e in o r d e r (and there are a c a d e m i c d o m e s t i c quarrels a b o u t w h e r e certain pieces of stylistic f u r n i t u r e belong), it can also be titillated b y disorder, o r perspectival inconsistencies. O n l y n a r ratologists t r u l y w o r t h their salt will i d e n t i f y all the traps Joyce sets f o r us in Ulysses. O n e e x a m p l e : i m m e d i a t e l y after a passage that q u o t e s B l o o m ' s t h o u g h t s a b o u t Shakespeare (we k n o w it's B l o o m : he w r o n g l y attributes C o n g r e v e ' s " M u s i c h a t h c h a r m s t o s o o t h e t h e savage b r e a s t " to Shakespeare), w e find, " I n Gerard's roscry of Fetter lane he walks, g r e y e d a u b u r n " (230). T h i s is an a l m o s t exact repetition o f o n e o f Stephen's r e m a r k s d u r i n g the Shakespeare discussion in "Scylla a n d C h a r y b d i s , " a n d so w e g o r u s h i n g back to that episode to m a k e sure w e w e r e r i g h t to think that B l o o m wasn't there. H e wasn't; b u t the n a r r a t o r was, and since he's as free as he w a n t s to be, he has s i m p l y d r o p p e d this bit o f Stephen's spcech into t h e flow of B l o o m ' s consciousness. T h e r e are o f c o u r s e cases of m u c h greater a m b i g u i t y in Joyce's w r i t i n g , o n e of w h i c h occurs in t h e description o f B u c k M u l l i g a n o n the first pages o f Ulysses: " H e peered sideways u p and gave a l o n g s l o w whistle of call, then paused awhile in rapt attention, his even w h i t e teeth glistening here and t h e r e

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w i t h g o l d p o i n t s . C h r y s o s t o m o s . T w o s t r o n g shrill w h i s t l e s a n s w e r e d t h r o u g h the c a l m . " W h o says o r t h i n k s " C h r y s o s t o m o s " ? A n d is it t h e r h e t o r i c a l l y a d e p t M u l l i g a n w e are m e a n t t o c o m p a r e t o t h e " g o l d e n m o u t h e d " f a t h e r o f t h e early c h u r c h , St. J o h n C h r y s o s t o m o s , o r is it Ulysses itself? A s Fritz S e n n h a s w r i t t e n , t h e w o r d can b e t a k e n " a s t h e t r a n s l a t i o n o f a visual i m p r e s s i o n , as Stephen's i n t e r n a l c o m m e n t , as t h e h e r a l d i n g o f a n e w t e c h n i q u e c h a r a c t e r i z e d o f t e n b y t h e sacrifice o f t h e syntactically c o m p l e t e s e n t e n c e s t r u c t u r e , as a r e f l e c t i o n o n Ulysses i t s e l f . . . B u t it might, a f t e r all, also b e t h e c o m m e n t o f s o m e n a r r a t o r . " 7 T h e n t h e r e are passages, s u c h as t h e d e s c r i p t i o n o f M u l l i g a n d r e s s i n g , which appear to mix not only different types of narrative reporting (third-person descriptions, internal m o n o l o g u e , and dialogue) but characters t h e m s e l v e s : And putting on his stiff collar and rebellious tie he spoke to them, chiding them, and to his dangling watchchain. His hands plunged and r u m m a g e d in his trunk while he called for a clean handkerchief. [Agenbite of inwit.] God, we'll simply have to dress the character. I want puce gloves and green boots. Contradiction. D o I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. Mercurial Malachi. A limp black missile flew out of his talking hands. — A n d there's your Latin quarter hat, he said. (14) T h e t w o s e n t e n c e s b e g i n n i n g " G o d , w e ' l l s i m p l y h a v e t o d r e s s " a n d "I w a n t " s e e m t o be B u c k ' s s p e c c h , b u t w i t h " C o n t r a d i c t i o n " w e e n t e r w h a t D a v i d H a y m a n has called " a d e a d space b e t w e e n t h o u g h t a n d a c t i o n , " a space t h a t m a y b e l o n g t o S t e p h e n o r t o B u c k o r t o b o t h (or is it t h e n a r r a t o r ' s allusion t o W h i t m a n ? ) , o n e in w h i c h " t h e t w o i n d i v i d u a l s arc m o m e n t a r i l y a n d m a g i c a l l y j o i n e d b y t h e n a r r a t o r w h o s e p r o c e d u r e s are m o r e c o m p r e h e n s i b l e o n t h e t h e m a t i c a n d analogical levels t h a n o n t h e m i m e t i c . " 8 T h i s a m b i g u i t y , I s h o u l d e m p h a s i z e , in n o w a y t h r e a t e n s a solidly e s t a b l i s h e d d i f f e r e n c e b e t w e e n S t e p h e n a n d B u c k , j u s t as t h e p l a y f u l t r a n s p o s i t i o n o f t h e s o u n d s o f Stephen's a n d B l o o m ' s n a m e s in " I t h a c a " (they m o m e n t a r i l y b e c o m e " S t o o m " a n d " B l e p h e n " ) is n o t h i n g b u t a m o m e n t a r y lexical j o k e t h a t has n o effect w h a t e v e r o n d i f f e r e n c e s a l r e a d y e l a b o r a t e d f o r well o v e r five h u n d r e d p a g e s b y a s c r u p u l o u s l y realistic p s y c h o l o g y . J o y c e b o t h p r o v o k e s a n d s o o t h e s o u r critical p a r a n o i a (he p r o v i d e s it w i t h e x o r c i s i n g exercises); t h e difficulty, o r even i m p o s s i b i l i t y , o f a t t r i b u t i o n in Ulysses is a l m o s t a l w a y s a local affair, o n e t h a t takes place against a b a c k g r o u n d o f f i r m l y i d e n t i f i e d a n d d i f f e r e n t i a t e d p e r s o n a l i ties. Since, f o r e x a m p l e , w e c o u l d n o m o r e c o n f u s e B l o o m ' s v o i c e w i t h Stephen's t h a n w e c o u l d m i s t a k e G i b b o n ' s style f o r M a l o r y ' s in t h e p a s tiches o f " O x e n o f t h e S u n , " t h e i n t r u s i o n s , c o n f u s i o n s , a n d d i s c o n t i n u i ties o f p o i n t o f v i e w in Ulysses m u s t , I t h i n k , be read as an i m p o r t a n t

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element in t h e strategic centering o f the narrator's a u t h o r i t y . T h a t is, they should be read as part of his aggressively d e m o n s t r a t e d s u p e r i o r i t y to t h e patterns and m o d e l s of representation he insists that w e recognize a n d analytically elaborate w h i l e h e himself partially neglects t h e m . 9 I d o n o t m e a n b y this that the perspectival agitations of Ulysses are insignificant. T h e question o f p o i n t of v i e w is essentially a q u e s t i o n of c i t a t i o n — w h o s e voice is the narrative q u o t i n g ? — a n d citation is crucial to t h e i n t r a - and intertextual a u t h o r i t y o f Joyce's novel as a M a s t e r w o r k . Indeed, Joyce's occasionally g r a n d indifference t o consistency of p o i n t o f v i e w should p e r h a p s be read as a way t o redirect o u r a t t e n t i o n f r o m t h e c o m p a r a t i v e l y trivial q u o t a t i o n s o f consciousness to w h a t I will call t h e q u o t a t i o n o f essential being. A n d in this he brings to the m i m e t i c t r a d i tion in literature w h a t m a y b e its m o s t refined technique. C o n s i d e r t h e first sentence o f Ulysses: "Stately, p l u m p B u c k M u l l i g a n c a m e f r o m t h e stairhead, b e a r i n g a b o w l of lather o n w h i c h a m i r r o r and a razor lay c r o s s e d . " " B e a r i n g " instead o f " c a r r y i n g " is part o f the " n o v e l e s e " c h a r acteristic, as K e n n e r r e m i n d s us, of t h e first episode. 1 0 B o t h it a n d t h e t w o adjectives used to describe B u c k reflect his particular rhetorical p o m posity. B u t it is n o t exactly as if B u c k h a d w r i t t e n that sentence; n o r d o w e have an o t h e r w i s e neutral narrative v o c a b u l a r y p e r v a d e d b y "a little cloud of i d i o m s w h i c h a character m i g h t use if h e w e r e m a n a g i n g t h e n a r r a t i v e . " Rather, Buck's verbal m a n n e r i s m s are a necessary part of a w h o l l y objective p r e s e n t a t i o n of h i m . " P l u m p " s o m e w h a t deflates " s t a t e l y " ; it helps us to visualize the character in a w a y that d o e s n o t exactly s u p p o r t the v a g u e r c o n n o t a t i o n s of " s t a t e l y . " T h e sentence is at once seduced b y Mulligan's rhetoric a n d coolly o b s e r v a n t of his p e r s o n . N o t that B u c k w o u l d have been incapable o f w r i t i n g the sentence (which is a rather silly issue f o r criticism to address at any rate); b u t in w r i t i n g it he w o u l d already, so to speak, have stepped o u t o f himself, w o u l d have p e r f o r m e d h i m s e l f w i t h irony. A n d w e could say that a c o m p l e t e o r o b jective v i e w of B u c k can be given neither by a direct q u o t e n o r b y an analytical description, but only b y a s c l f - p e r f o r m a n c e at a certain distance f r o m the p e r f o r m i n g self. In o t h e r w o r d s , t h e sentence objectifies the p o i n t of v i e w that it takes. It is this nonperspectival p o i n t of v i e w that explains t h e peculiar a n d d i s t u r b i n g p o w e r of Dubliners, w h e r e Joyce characterizes n o t only i n d i viduals b u t also a kind of collective consciousness t h r o u g h such o b j e c tified subjectivity. 1 1 T h i s impressive a c h i e v e m e n t s h o u l d , I t h i n k , be considered in the light of Stephen's definition of b e a u t y in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, as well as the references in Ulysses to Aristotle's n o t i o n of entclechy and t h e " f o r m of f o r m s . " In t r y i n g to u n d e r s t a n d w h a t A q u i n a s m e a n s b y " r a d i a n c e " (or claritas) in his e n u m e r a t i o n o f the " t h r e e t h i n g s needed f o r b e a u t y " (integritas, consonantia, claritas), S t e p h e n

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comes to the following solution: " T h e radiance of w h i c h he speaks is the scholastic quidditas, the whatness of a t h i n g . " 1 2 It is as if literature could q u o t e being independently of any particular being's point of view. We w o u l d , that is, have the point of view of neither a n a r r a t o r n o r a character; instead w e w o u l d have the quidditas of Buck Mulligan, and even of D u b l i n . T h e individual's or the city's point of view has been purified to its essence, to a whatness ontologically distinct f r o m the p h e n o m e n a l i t y of having a point of view. T h e s o m e w h a t comical side of this realization of Aquinas in narrative techniques of realistic fiction is evident in the following sentence f r o m " T h e B o a r d i n g H o u s e , " w h i c h describes Protestant D u b l i n e r s g o i n g to church on a bright s u m m e r m o r n i n g : " T h e belfry of George's church sent out constant peals and worshippers, singly or in g r o u p s , traversed the little circus before the church, revealing their p u r p o s e b y their selfcontained d e m e a n o r n o less than by the little v o l u m e s in their gloved h a n d s . " 1 3 An essence of D u b l i n c h u r c h g o i n g receives expression here n o t as a result of either a dramatic or an analytic approach; instead the m o s t scrupulously impersonal description manages to raise the object of d e scription to a kind of objectifyingly ironic self-description. T h e very neatness of the sentence, w i t h its elegantly controlled b u t s o m e w h a t f a n cified syntax and its concluding succession of n o u n s each w i t h a single modifier ("self-contained d e m e a n o r , " "little v o l u m e s , " "gloved h a n d s " ) , actually speaks the activity itself as a s o m e w h a t trivial manifestation of the h u m a n taste for ritualized order. B u t the language also demystifies the very idea of an essentialized selfexpression by allowing us to locate its transcendental, nonperspectival point of view. If Dublin speaks itself in Dubliners, the essentializing voice itself cannot escape having a social and psychological identity. T h e pitiless quidditas of realistic fiction allows for the d e p h e n o m e n a l i z i n g of character only as a p h e n o m e n o n of point of view. W h o can repeat D u b l i n w i t h particular radiance w i t h o u t , however, being able to take a n o t h e r point of view (and another point of view w o u l d precisely, h o w e v e r s u perior it m i g h t be, destroy the essentializing r e p e t i t i o n s ) — w h o , if n o t an educated Dubliner or a D u b l i n schoolteacher, one w h o , like Stephen in the " N e s t o r " episode of Ulysses, fully assumes the continuity b e t w e e n his dull-witted student and himself, thereby perhaps plotting his escape f r o m D u b l i n t h r o u g h his articulated recognition of his o w n Dublin-ness in art? T h e schoolteacher can speak only Dublinese (unless—and this is of course the difference between Dubliners and Ulysses—he borrows voices f r o m other places): w e can hear, in the second half of o u r sentence f r o m " T h e B o a r d i n g H o u s e , " those adeptly poised r h y t h m i c a l designs, so receptive to h y p e r b o l e ("revealing their p u r p o s e by . . . n o less than b y " ) , which in Ulysses animate the endless recitation of local n e w s in

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public meetingplaces. T h e quidditas of a D u b l i n c h u r c h g r o u p is, t h e n , itself a kind of s e c o n d a r y o r occasional f o r m w i t h i n the superior, m o r e general f o r m o f D u b l i n - n e s s . Q u i d d i t a s here is m a n i f e s t e d m o s t p r o f o u n d l y as a k i n d o f respiratory pattern in language, a p a t t e r n that then has the potential—associated b y Aristotle w i t h e n t e l e c h y — t o e n g e n d e r actualities (fictional characters and events) of the s a m e k i n d , w h i c h repeat it. In Joyce, t h e S c h o o l m a n is r e f o r m u l a t e d as t h e schoolteacher; an e d u cated b u t inescapable provincialism is t h e social p r e c o n d i t i o n o f an art c o n t e n t to give claritas to t h e artist's inherited consciousness. *

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Claritas is an effect of q u o t a t i o n , a l t h o u g h , as I have been s u g g e s t i n g , t h e q u o t e is at the level o f essence and n o t of existence. O f c o u r s e in Ulysses Joyce d o e s n o t m e r e l y cite D u b l i n ; the novel is an encyclopedia of r e f e r ences. A n d this m e a n s that voices are always o n loan. Several critics have n o t e d the absence of w h a t w e w o u l d call a personal style in Joyce. Step h e n H e a t h , w r i t i n g — f o r the m o s t part brilliantly—as a representative of poststructuralist (and m a i n l y French) readings o f Joyce, notes: " I n place of style w e have plagiarismand t h e n goes o n t o speak of Joyce s w r i t i n g as "ceaselessly p u s h i n g t h e signified back i n t o t h e signifier in o r d e r to r e f i n d at every m o m e n t t h e d r a m a o f language, its p r o d u c t i o n . " 1 4 I will n o t linger over the satisfying spectacle of a p r o f e s s o r praising plagiar i s m (high-class plagiarism, true); b u t the n o t i o n of a plagiaristic w a n d e r i n g a m o n g s i g n i f i e r s — o f the w r i t e r as a k i n d of o p e n s w i t c h b o a r d p i c k i n g u p voices f r o m all o v e r — d o e s deserve m o r e attention. For it raises a question that has been of m a j o r i m p o r t a n c e in this b o o k : t h e a u t h o r i t y of literature over t h e materials it i n c o r p o r a t e s . In Bouvard et Pecuchet w e have seen a n o t h e r encyclopedic novel that appears to i n d u l g e in massive q u o t a t i o n . B u t the intertextuality of Bouvard et Pecuchet is h i g h l y deceptive: t h e textual act o f q u o t a t i o n is s i m u l t a n e o u s l y a disqualification of t h e citational process. Flaubert erases o u r cultural m e m o r y at t h e v e r y m o m e n t he awakens it. T h e m u t a t i o n s of epistem o l o g i c a l discourses in Bouvard et Pecuchet r e m o v e t h e novel f r o m t h e cultural h i s t o r y it n o n c o n n e c t e d l y absorbs. N o r does the w o r k ' s i n t r a t e x tuality create connective designs o r structures; each section repeats a p r o cess of solipsistic play that cuts it off f r o m t h e o t h e r sections e c h o e d in t h e repetition. Finally, n o t o n l y does t h e w o r k o f art know nothing, b u t in its i n c o m m e n s u r a b i l i t y w i t h all cultural discourses of k n o w l e d g e , it can only exist in a c o n t i n u o u s anxiety a b o u t its capacity to sustain itself, p e r h a p s even t o begin itself. For Joyce, o n t h e o t h e r h a n d , art is b y definition t h e t r a n s c e n d e n c e o f any such anxiety. Ulysses is o f t e n hard to read b u t , m o r e than a n y o t h e r w o r k o f literature, it is also a g u i d e b o o k t o h o w it s h o u l d be read. A c -

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tually a g u i d e b o o k was issued b e f o r e t h e novel was p u b l i s h e d . Partly f o r reasons b e y o n d Joyce's c o n t r o l (the delay o f m o r e than ten years b e t w e e n the publication of Ulysses in Paris and its appearancc in E n g l a n d a n d Amcrica) a n d partly because Joyce w a n t e d it that w a y (he sent t h e first k n o w n schema f o r Ulysses t o C a r l o Linati in S e p t e m b e r 1920—a year b e f o r e Shakespeare and C o . p u b l i s h e d the b o o k — a n d a second s c h e m a to Valery L a r b a u d in late 1921), Ulysses was an object n o t o n l y o f discussion b u t also o f interpretation l o n g b e f o r e its m a j o r audiences h a d access to t h e c o m p l e t e text. M a n y readers thus h a d lessons in reading b e f o r e they h a d a n y t h i n g to read. In itself that is sufficient evidence of this great m o d e r n i s t text's need f o r a reader, o f its d e p e n d e n c e o n a c o m m u n i t y o f c o m p r e h e n s i o n . If the m o d e r n i s t artist refuses to m a k e his w o r k accessible to a mass audience, he is, as Richard Poirier has a r g u e d , far f r o m indifferent to b e i n g read and u n d e r s t o o d . 1 5 Joyce, like Eliot in his n o t e s f o r " T h e W a s t e l a n d , " helps us o n the road t o all t h o s e r e c o g n i t i o n s a n d identifications necessary f o r t h e " r i g h t " reading of Ulysses: r e c o g n i t i o n s of the elaborate n e t w o r k of repetitions w i t h i n the novel, identifications of all the o t h e r cultural styles and artifacts alluded to o r i m i t a t e d . T h e r e is in Ulysses an intratextuality m e a n t t o g u i d e us in o u r i n t e r t e x tual investigations, to teach us h o w to leave t h e novel and, above all, h o w to r e t u r n to it in o u r exegeses. Frank B u d g e n records p o i n t i n g o u t to Joyce that the w o r d " y a r d s " w o u l d be m o r e accurate t h a n " c r o s s t r e e " to designate t h e spars to w h i c h the sails are b e n t o n t h e s c h o o n e r S t e p h e n sees in D u b l i n Bay in " P r o t e u s . " " T h e r e ' s n o criticism I m o r e value than t h a t , " Joycc answered, a n d then he w e n t o n to say: " B u t t h e w o r d ' c r o s s tree' is essential. It c o m e s in later on [in "Scylla and C h a r y b i d i s " ] a n d I can't c h a n g e i t . " 1 6 T h e repetition is n o t o n e w e are likely to n o t i c e o n a first reading (or p e r h a p s o n a second or third reading). It is, h o w e v e r , lying in wait f o r o u r r e c o g n i t i o n , and that seems to have been e n o u g h f o r Joycc. For he k n e w that even if w e missed " c r o s s t r e e , " at least h e m a d e us expect such repetitions, and he t h e r e f o r e had the o b l i g a t i o n of p r o v i d i n g t h e m f o r us even if w e never see t h e m . T h e training is given in a series of g r a d u a t e d lessons. Slightly m o r e likely to a w a k e n a m e m o r y are such things as M o l l y ' s allusion, in " P e n e l o p e , " to G e r t y M a c D o w e l l ' s unflattering reference to " f l i g h t y " girl cyclists " s h o w i n g off w h a t they hadn't g o t " ( 2 9 3 ) — M o l l y r e m e m b e r s an Andalusian singer in Gibraltar w h o " d i d n ' t m a k e m u c h secret o f w h a t she h a d n ' t " ( 6 1 8 ) — o r (farther u p on the scale o f visibility) the echo, in B l o o m ' s anticipation o f his b a t h in the last lines o f " L o t u s E a t e r s " — h e " s a w the dark tangled curls of his b u s h floating, floating hair o f the stream a r o u n d the l i m p father o f t h o u sands, a languid floating flower" ( 7 1 ) — o f the description, in " P r o t e u s , " of the tide at S a n d y m o u n t Strand: t h e " b r e a t h o f w a t e r s " that " f l o w s purling, w i d e l y flowing, floating f o a m p o o l , flower u n f u r l i n g " (41). T h e

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w o r d s in " P r o t e u s " could b e Stephen's, b u t t h e c o n c l u d i n g passage o f " L o t u s E a t e r s " is clearly o u t o f B l o o m ' s linguistic range. W h a t m i g h t in a n o t h e r w r i t e r be t a k e n as coincidence (the recurrence of " c r o s s t r e e " ) , o r as f o r g e t f u l n e s s (the repetition o f Gerty's t h o u g h t s in M o l l y ' s m i n d ) , b e c o m e s in Ulysses an i m p o r t a n t sign of t h e author's virtuosity. It is as if m o r e a n d m o r e circuits w e r e lighted as w e read and reread; the m o v e m e n t f o r w a r d , f r o m episode to episode, is s i m u l t a n e o u s l y a spatialization of the text, w h i c h is t r a n s f o r m e d into a k i n d o f electrical b o a r d w i t h i n n u m e r a b l e p o i n t s of light c o n n e c t e d to o n e a n o t h e r in elaborate, crisscrossing patterns. " C i r c e " condenses t h e activity of textual r e m e m b r a n c e ceaselessly t a k ing place t h r o u g h o u t the novel. Ulysses is itself the hallucinating subject o f " C i r c e " ; the episode is t h e b o o k d r e a m i n g itself even b e f o r e it is f i n ished (there are anticipatory echoes of t h i n g s yet to c o m e , a n d to s o m e extent it is even Joyce's o e u v r e b o t h calling u p m o m e n t s f r o m its past and, in certain w o r d plays, a n n o u n c i n g t h e verbal textures of Finnegans Wake). " C i r c e " is also a w a y f o r us t o check o u r textual m e m o r y , t o be tested o n h o w well w e have read, to find o u t t o w h a t e x t e n t Ulysses has occupied o u r m i n d . E v e n m o r e : it is a m o d e l d r e a m f o r t h e ideally o c cupied, o r possessed, reader o f Ulysses. " C i r c e " implicitly defines an absolute limit of readcrly a b s o r p t i o n . N o t o n l y w o u l d Joyce's w o r k p r o vide all t h e t e r m s o f o u r critical activity, it w o u l d also be t h e i n e x h a u s t ible material of o u r d r e a m s , in Freudian t e r m s b o t h t h e d a y t i m e residue and t h e u n c o n s c i o u s drives. B e f o r e Finnegans Wake, Joyce already p r o jects in Ulysses the literary textualization of t h e entire m i n d , o f o u r d a y consciousness and o u r night-consciousness. In so d o i n g , he u n w i t t i n g l y exposes w h a t m a y be the secret p r o j e c t b e h i n d all talk o f t h e m i n d o r o f the w o r l d as text: the successful positing of the B o o k — o r , m o r e accurately, of b o o k s , of a certain t y p e of professional a c t i v i t y — a s t h e o n t o logical g r o u n d o f history a n d o f desire. T h e " d r i v e s " of t h e B o o k are, h o w e v e r , drives w i t h o u t affects. " C i r c e " hallucinates the u n c o n s c i o u s as w o r d play. T h e u n c o n s c i o u s , it is true, never is a n y t h i n g b u t w o r d play in literature, a n d t h o u g h this s h o u l d p r o b a b l y be taken as the sign of an i n c o m m e n s u r a b i l i t y b e t w e e n mental life a n d t h e i n s t r u m e n t s of literary e x p r e s s i o n , it has recently authorized i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s of the u n c o n s c i o u s as a s t r u c t u r e "in s o m e w a y " a n a l o g o u s to that of language. T h u s a s u b l i m a t i n g b o o k ishness domesticates the u n c o n s c i o u s , enacting the v e r y r e p u d i a t i o n s it p u r p o r t s to analyze as linguistic effects. T h e violations of logic a n d linearity, t h e displacements a n d t h e c o n d e n s a t i o n s o f discourse in w h i c h w e are inclined to read t h e o p e r a t i o n s o f u n c o n s c i o u s processes, are t h e m s e l v e s constitutive of t h e vast s u b l i m a t i n g s t r u c t u r e o f h u m a n language. T h a t s t r u c t u r e — p e r h a p s t h o u g h t itself, as Freud s u g g e s t e d — m a y

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have evolved as the result of a p r i m a r y displacement of a w i s h — a displacement f r o m the untranslatable t e r m s of a drive to so-called linguistic m e t a p h o r s of desire, m e t a p h o r s that express drives only on the g r o u n d of their self-constitutive negation of drives. " C i r c e " is Joyce's m o s t explicit and, w e m i g h t say, m o s t Flaubertian insistence on the nonreferential finality of the signifier in literature. To a certain extent, it counters the mimetic effects I began by emphasizing. It is the episode that m o s t openly invites a psychoanalytic interpretation, even as it compels us to a c k n o w l e d g e impenetrable resistance to any such interpretation. As part of a book's hallucinatory play w i t h its o w n elements, B l o o m ' s p r e s u m e d masochism, for example, can only be a j o k e . B l o o m ' s p s y c h o l o g y is elaborated in " C i r c e " — g i v e n the d i m e n s i o n of unconscious drives—as it is n o w h e r e else in Ulysses, but the suggestion is that, in writing, p s y c h o l o g y can never be anything b u t farce. A desire w i t h n o t h i n g m o r e than a textual past has the lightness and u n c o n strained mobility of farce. In " C i r c e " Joyce exuberantly stages m a s o c h ism w i t h a kind of wild inventiveness—as if to insist on the p r o f o u n d difference between the mysterious repetition of a painful pleasure, w h i c h Freud obscurely posits as the essence of h u m a n sexuality in the Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, and m a s o c h i s m as an occasion for e x travagantly varied scenic effects. In " C i r c e " the b o o k d r e a m s m a s o c h i s m w i t h o u t pain (or w i t h an inconsequential pain, one that can be erased f r o m one page to the next), and in so doing it appears to leave behind not only the " b u r n t u p field" of Ulysses' o w n m i m e t i c seriousness b u t also the devastated terrain of a m o r e general cultural discourse. 1 7 T o w a r d the other texts it quotes in various ways—especially Sacher-Masoch's Venus in Furs, Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathis Sexualis, and Flaubert's Tentation de St. Antoine, all textual elaborations of the perverse in h u m a n c o n d u c t — " C i r c e " engages in an extremely intricate operation of w h a t we m i g h t call a resublimating desublimation. In this farcical t r e a t m e n t o f other cultural discourses, Joyce can be u n d e r s t o o d as p r o p o s i n g , first of all, that the claim to truth of any cultural artifact is its p r i m a r y m y s t i f i cation. T h e farcical here operates as the sign of a desublimated disc o u r s e — a l t h o u g h it is not the sexual in this case that is revealed as the referent of an allegedly higher discourse. O n the contrary: the w o r k s that " C i r c e " quotes claim, in different ways, to analyze or to represent sexual drives, but, Joyce suggests, the reality those claims disguise is n o t h i n g m o r e than the arbitrary play and productiveness of the signifier. T h e virtuosity of desire as linguistic effects is, I think, m e a n t to lead us to conclude that language cannot represent desire. This, however, does n o t necessarily diminish the authority of literary language. We will have to look m o r e closely at the resublimating aspect of the operation I have j u s t referred to. First note that the f r e q u e n t l y

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marvelous comedy o f " C i r c e " is much more ambiguous—even suspect—than I have suggested. There is in Joyce, from Stephen Hero to Ulysses, a scrupulously serious use o f techniques obviously meant to represent characters realistically, as well as the cultivation o f a remarkable perspectival strategy suggesting, as we have seen, that we have the essence o f a character independent o f his or her point o f view. Not only does Joyce frequently work within formal conventions inescapably associated with a referential bias in fiction; his departure from familiar techniques o f novelistic reporting actually reinforces the illusion o f referentiality. T h e quotation o f characters in their essential being, though it violates a certain literalism in realistic point o f view, suggests that characters exist outside o f their novelistic appearances. The narrator quotes them at a level o f reality they are themselves incapable o f representing, and this means that the narrative frequently refers to, say, a B l o o m or a Mulligan more real than the B l o o m or the Mulligan it allows us to see and hear. Thus the reduction o f Bloom's depths to verbal farce in " C i r c e " is countered by the very passages to which " C i r c e " refers us. T h e novel has already committed itself to illusions o f truth, that is, to a belief in novelistic language as epistemologically trustworthy, as capable o f recreating the density o f human experience, o f referring to or carrying more than its own relational play. This commitment is visible even in episodes that emphasize a purely rhetorical finality. To write is to experience the seductive powers o f language itself, the ways in which it turns us away from the objects it designates. But that seduction is o f course not limited to writing, and Joyce's interest in a milieu celebrated for its rhetorical performances allows him to represent, as an object o f his own novelistic consciousness, the absorption in language that also characterizes literary consciousness. T h e importance o f rhetorical virtuosity in Dublin talk is appreciatively recognized by Joyce in the space he gives to such talk and is also exploited as the occasion for dramatizing a general epistemological skepticism. Thus the parodies o f journalistic and popular literary styles interrupting the nameless narrator's account, in " C y c l o p s , " o f what happened at about 5 P.M. in Barney Kiernan's pub are, in a sense, not really interruptions at all. T h e entire episode is a comic display o f hyperbolic styles, and the nameless one's account, though it enjoys more space than any o f the parodic asides, is merely another version o f the exaggerating modes o f speech (the technique here is "gigantism") characteristic o f the entire episode. And this also means that, though we have a very strong sense o f what is happening in this dramatic scenc (Bloom is the victim o f an antisemitic attack and he makes his famous defense o f love as the opposite o f hatred), we are perhaps also invited to doubt the validity o f the narrative report. O r rather, with his customary ambivalence about such

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things, Joyce seems a n x i o u s b o t h to p r o f i t f r o m a s s u m p t i o n s a b o u t the reliability o f r e p o r t i n g he h i m s e l f c o n t i n u o u s l y e x p o s e s as naive a n d t o give a dazzling d e m o n s t r a t i o n of t h e epistemological finality of t h e report's language. Similarly, t h e headlines in " A e o l u s " are n o t so m u c h intrusions i n t o an o t h e r w i s e naturalistically r e n d e r e d dialogue as a rem i n d e r that the headline itself is a m o d e r n addition to the classical r e p e r t o r y of rhetorical figures in this section's style. If the n e w s p a p e r increases o u r k n o w l e d g e a b o u t the w o r l d , it also significantly m o d i f i e s m o d e s of c o g n i t i o n , and the w o r l d w e get to k n o w better is also i n s e p a rable f r o m the j o u r n a l i s t i c m e d i u m that m a y be o f f e r i n g little m o r e than reports o n its o w n resources. Displays of rhetoric are, then, an i m p o r t a n t part of Ulysses' referential n e t w o r k . F u r t h e r m o r e , if Joyce s o m e w h a t fitfully makes the points I have associated principally w i t h " C i r c e , " they are not exactly n e w p o i n t s . T h e w o r k s o f Flaubert and H e n r y James already m a k e the case f o r k n o w l e d g e as a m a t t e r of style a n d f o r t h e self as a play of the signifier. W h a t is original in J o y c e is t h e use to w h i c h he puts this awareness. James's The Europeans—and I recognize the bizarrencss of the c o m p a r i s o n — m i g h t be read in t e r m s n o t t o o different f r o m t h o s e I have used f o r " C i r c e . " T h e farce of " C i r c e " is a f u n c t i o n of the m e l o d r a m a t i c associations it evokes. J u s t w h e n B l o o m is to be characterized in depth, he disappears as a self, and a cultural discourse o n t h e perverse in h u m a n n a t u r e is comically replayed d e v o i d of a referent, as part of the m o r e general c o m e d y of entertaining b u t epistemologically insignificant m u t a t i o n s in t h e h i s t o r y of cultural discourse. A n d , at least in the i m m e d i a t e c o n t e x t of this d e m o n s t r a t i o n in Ulysses, there is, so to speak, n o o n e a r o u n d to b e affected. W h a t interests James, o n t h e o t h e r h a n d , is the effect of s o m e t h i n g like the disappearance o f self o n h u m a n relations. R a t h e r than p r o p o s e an e x t r e m e (and e x t r e m e l y theoretical) skepticism a b o u t o u r ability t o rep o r t on a n y t h i n g at all, James in The Europeans stages a c o n f r o n t a t i o n b e t w e e n characters w h o expect their inherited v o c a b u l a r y to c o r r e s p o n d t o s o m e t h i n g real in h u m a n n a t u r e and a w o m a n (Eugenia) w h o m a y be n o t h i n g b u t a play of styles. James suggests, w i t h great originality, that Eugenia's lack of self m a y be the m o s t m o r a l l y interesting t h i n g a b o u t her, w h i l e t h e W e n t w o r t h s ' need t o k n o w others severely limits t h e m (they are finally c o m p e l l e d to label E u g e n i a a liar). I will m a k e an even m o r e i n c o n g r u o u s j u x t a p o s i t i o n by s u g g e s t i n g that Beckett is closcr to J a m e s in this respect than to his friend a n d c o m patriot. F r o m Waiting For Godot to Company, Beckett suggests that, w h e r e a s there can n o l o n g e r be " c h a r a c t e r s " in literature, that v e r y d e p rivation t h r o w s into sharper relief than ever b e f o r e t h e infinite g e o m e t r y of relational play a m o n g h u m a n subjects. Godot d e m o n s t r a t e s t h e inevitability of conversation at a cultural j u n c t u r e w h e n there m a y be n o t h i n g

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left to talk a b o u t ; a n d t h e strategies f o r c o n t i n u i n g talk s u r v i v e t h e a b sence o f psychological subjects. A n d Company, even after t h e e l i m i n a t i o n of a h u m a n other, p e r f o r m s a solipsistic sociability i n h e r e n t in t h e g r a m m a r o f l a n g u a g e itself. (Sociability in Joyce is a f u n c t i o n o f realistically portrayed characters and n o t , as in Bcckett, t h e fascinatingly a n a c h r o n i s tic r e m n a n t of the disappearance of such characters.) Beckett's a u t h e n t i c a v a n t - g a r d i s m consists in a break n o t only w i t h t h e m y t h s fostered b y cultural discourse b u t , m o r e radically, w i t h cultural discourse itself. T h e m y s t e r y of his w o r k is h o w it is n o t only sustained b u t even b e g u n , f o r intertextuality in Beckett (the echoes of Descartes a n d M a l e b r a n c h e in the early w o r k s , f o r example) is n o t a principle o f cultural c o n t i n u i t y (as it is in Joyce, in spite of the p a r o d i c n a t u r e of the repetitions) b u t t h e occasion f o r a k i n d o f p s y c h o t i c raving. C u l t u r a l m e m o r i e s exist in t h e m i n d s o f Beckett's characters like fossils b e l o n g i n g to a n o t h e r age, like i n s t r u m e n t s n o o n e k n o w s h o w t o use a n y m o r e . Beckett's w o r k r e m e m bers culture as L u c k y r e m e m b e r s the s t r u c t u r e o f a logical a r g u m e n t in G o d o t : they arc played like the b r o k e n records o f l a n g u a g e and consciousness. Joycc, f o r all his p a r o d i c intentions, rejuvenates the H o m e r i c m y t h s that, s o m e w h a t above t h e characters' heads, give an epic d i m e n s i o n t o a prosaic day in D u b l i n life. T h u s Ulysses, h o w e v e r c r o o k e d l y a n d m o c k ingly, resuscitates O d y s s e u s , a n d Joyce's ambivalent a r g u m e n t against t h e m i m e t i c seriousness o f literature, unlike Beckett's o r Flaubert's, actually w o r k s to increase literature's a u t h o r i t y , to realize a d r e a m o f cultural a r tifacts as b o t h u n c o n s t r a i n e d b y and s u p e r i o r to life, s u p e r i o r b y v i r t u e of t h e intertextual designs they silently invite us to disengage. T h e r e s u b limation o f cultural discourse in " C i r c e " is a f u n c t i o n of t h e episode's intertextuality. Joycc ultimately " s a v e s " the o t h e r texts that " C i r c e " parodistically quotes, a n d he does this s i m p l y b y p u t t i n g t h e m i n t o relation w i t h " C i r c e . " Joycean p a r o d y s i m u l t a n e o u s l y " s c o r c h e s " t h e o t h e r texts to w h i c h it refers and reconstitutes t h e m as cultural artifacts w i t h i n the intertextual designs w o v e n b y Ulysses. Intertextuality is, o f course, n o t a p h e n o m e n o n peculiar to Ulysses; w h a t is peculiar is t h e novel's use of the intertext as a r e d e m p t i v e strategy. T h e Joycean i n t e r t e x t rescues Western literature f r o m the d c c o n s t r u c t i v e effects of the i n t e r t e x t itself. T h e parodistic replays of H o m e r , Shakespeare, and F l a u b e r t — n o t t o speak of all the a u t h o r s q u o t e d in " O x e n of the S u n " — a r e neither s u b versive o f n o r indifferent t o the fact o f cultural inheritance; rather, J o y c e relocates t h e items of that inheritance w i t h Ulysses as b o t h their center and belated origin. T h i s is very different f r o m Flaubert's insistent d e m o n s t r a t i o n of art's indifference t o its sources. T h e r e is n o pastiche in Bouvard et Pecuchet, w h i c h m e a n s that Flaubert never advertises his a u t h o r i t y over o t h e r cul-

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tural texts. Flaubert's novel is deliberately m o n o t o n o u s and n a r r o w , as if it couldn't d o a n y t h i n g w i t h t h e mass o f h u m a n k n o w l e d g e it i n c o r p o rates except to s u b m i t all of it to t h e same, tirelessly repeated stylistic o p e r a t i o n . T h e originality of Bouvard et Pecuchet is identical to its epistemological and cultural i n c o m p e t e n c e . In a sense, t h e artist is revealed (and this r e m a r k m i g h t n o t have displeased Flaubert) as s o m e w h a t stupid: n o m a t t e r w h a t is presented to h i m , he reacts w i t h t h e s a m e stylistic reflex, w i t h a cliche. A n d , as I a r g u e d earlier, the writer's limited a u t h o r ity, even his political effectiveness, d e p e n d s o n this s t r i p p i n g away of all authority, o n t h e r e c o g n i t i o n of the w o r k of art as an i m p o t e n t discourse. T h e w o r k ' s solipsistic existence in the m a r g i n s o f h i s t o r y u n d e r m i n e s , o r at least helps to delay, t h e inevitable c o m p l i c i t y of all art in a civilization's discourse o f p o w e r . Beckett, a n d n o t Joycc, w o u l d be the m o s t attentive reader o f t h e Flaubert I have been discussing. T h e v e r y variety of stylistic designs in Ulysses reveals Joyce's designs o n culture. Far f r o m t r a n s m u t i n g all his cultural referents i n t o a single, recognizably Joycean discourse, Joyce s c r u p u lously maintains the distinctness o f i n n u m e r a b l e o t h e r styles in order to legitimize misquoting them. T h e accuracy is n o t m e r e l y a referential scruple, j u s t as t h e inaccuracies are far f r o m b e i n g m e r e sloppiness. We have to recognize t h e sources o f Ulysses if w e are to a c k n o w l e d g e its superiority to t h e m . Ulysses indulges massively in q u o t a t i o n — q u o t a t i o n of individual characters, social g r o u p s , m y t h s , o t h e r w r i t e r s — b u t q u o t ing in Joyce is the o p p o s i t e of self-effacement. It is an act o f a p p r o p r i ation, w h i c h can be p e r f o r m e d w i t h o u t Joyce's voice ever b e i n g h e a r d . It is as if Joyce w e r e q u o t i n g Western culture itself in its q u i d d i t a s — e x c e p t that the w h a t n e s s of all t h o s e cultural referents is designated n o t as t h e essential p r o p e r t y of t h e referents t h e m s e l v e s b u t rather as a c o n s e q u e n c e of their b e i n g ( m i s ) q u o t e d . Joyce m i r a c u l o u s l y reconciles u n c o m p r o m i s ing m i m e s i s w i t h a solipsistic structure. Western culture is saved, indeed glorified, t h r o u g h literary m e t e m p s y c h o s i s : it dies in the J o y c e a n p a r o d y a n d pastiche, b u t , once r e m o v e d f r o m historical time, it is r e s u r r e c t e d as a timeless design. Far f r o m contesting the a u t h o r i t y o f culture, Ulysses reinvents o u r relation to Western culture in t e r m s o f exegetical d e v o t i o n , that is, as the exegesis of Ulysses itself. Beckett, on the o t h e r h a n d , babbles culture, as if its cultural m e m o r i e s afflicted t h e w o r k of art—afflicted it n o t because they stifle its originality b u t because they infect it like f o r e i g n o r prehistoric o r g a n i s m s . T h e d i f ficulty of art in Beckett is in n o w a y c o n n c c t e d t o t h e e n c y c l o p e d i c n a t u r e o f the w o r k ' s intertextual range; rather it is the f u n c t i o n of an art alienated f r o m culture, t h e c o n s e q u e n c e o f Beckett's e x t r a o r d i n a r y e f f o r t t o stop r e m e m b e r i n g , to begin again, to p r o t e c t w r i t i n g f r o m cultural inheritance. As his late w o r k suggests, the m o s t refined stage of Beckett's a r -

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tistic consciousness is identical to a moving back, to a return to that stage of difficulty which, he may feel, he left too early: the stage at which the writer is paralyzed by the insurmountable problem of description, of saying what he sees. It is perhaps only at this stage that the writer discovers the nature of writing; "ill seen, ill said" defines nothing less than the essence of literature. *

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Ulysses is a novel curiously unaffected by its most radical propositions. Perhaps because the realistic psychology of its characters is barely affected by—to quote Heath again—-Joyce's "ceaselessly pushing the signified back into the signifier in order to refind at every moment the drama of language, its productions" (this remark, however problematic we may find it today, actually does describe The Europeans), this pushing never engenders any oppositional pressures. To put it schematically, the finality of the signifier is at once posited and ignored. We have, however, learned from other writers that literature's greatest ruse may be to insist that language perform the function of knowledge that the writer's special intimacy with language has taught him radically to doubt. This is the ruse of a reflexive "I" conscious of an aberrant consciousness of both its inner and outer worlds, and yet skeptical of that very consciousness of error. For the epistemological nihilism that may be the consequence of our sense of the human mind as a language-producing mechanism (linguistic signifiers can proliferate independently of what they signify and what they refer to) is itself the event of a linguistic consciousness, and the most daring move of all in this "prison house of language" may be to insist that language give us the truth it falsely claims to contain. I will name three writers who make this insistence: Proust, Lawrence, and Bataille. One can hardly imagine more different artists, and yet all three share a sense of the implausibility and the necessity of forging a correspondence between language and being. 18 In his foreword to Women in Love Lawrence writes that the "struggle for verbal consciousness should not be left out in art. It is a very great part of life. It is not superimposition of a theory. It is the passionate struggle into conscious being" of the writer's "unborn needs and fulfillment." This Lawrcntian struggle—the word is repeated five times in one short paragraph—is perhaps not too far from what Bataille calls, in his foreword to Le Bleu du del, the "intolerable, impossible ordeal [that alone] can give an author the means of achieving that wide-ranging vision that readers weary of the narrow limitations imposed by convention are waiting for." "An anguish to which I was prey" was, we remember, at the origin of the "freakish anomalies" of Le Bleu du del. Thus Bataille announces his identification with his frenetically restless narrator Troppmann, and in so do-

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ing he argues, f r o m t h e very start, f o r an abdication o f t h e novelist's m a s t e r y of his material. Le Bleu du ciel—like Women in Love and, t o a certain extent, A la Recherche du temps perdu—has t r o u b l e settling o n its o w n sense, and this is h o w these w o r k s revolutionize the practice o f w r i t ing novels. T h e y have to be p e r f o r m e d b e f o r e a n y t e c h n i q u e f o r d o m i nating their sense has been w o r k e d o u t . M o s t i m p o r t a n t , t h e struggles and ordeals o f w h i c h L a w r e n c e and Bataille speak are i n c o r p o r a t e d into the very w o r k of their w r i t i n g , w i t h t h e result that their fiction is c o m pelled to abdicate any a u t h o r i t y f o r resolving t h e d i l e m m a s it poses, a n y s u p e r i o r p o i n t of v i e w that m i g h t j u s t i f y a b r o a d e r cultural claim f o r art as a vehicle of t r u t h . T h e freakish anomalies of Ulysses, far f r o m t h r e a t e n i n g t h e author's c o n t r o l of his material, are the v e r y sign o f t h a t control. C o n s i d e r " O x e n o f t h e S u n , " w h i c h m a y b e the m o s t difficult and t h e m o s t accessible episode o f t h e novel. O n c e w e have identified all t h e referents in this v i r t u o s o pastiche of p r o s e styles f r o m Sallust to m o d e r n slang, w h a t else docs the episode give us? H o w does its l a n g u a g e enact its sense? While the n a r r a t o r is e n g a g i n g in this stylistic t o u r de forcc, several of t h e c h a r a c t e r s — i n c l u d i n g B l o o m and S t e p h e n — a r e sitting a r o u n d d r i n k i n g and talking in a m a t e r n i t y hospital, w h e r e M r s . P u r e f o y is g o i n g t h r o u g h the final m o m e n t s of a l o n g , h a r d labor. W i t h s o m e help f r o m a letter J o y c e w r o t e to Frank B u d g e n as he was w o r k i n g o n " O x e n of the S u n , " critics have p r o p o s e d a series of parallels b e t w e e n the e v o l u t i o n of English p r o s e a n d (1) biological gestation and birth, (2) t h e d e v e l o p m e n t of t h e e m b r y onic artist's p r o s e style, (3) faunal e v o l u t i o n , and (4) Stephen's r e b i r t h as an artist. T h e episode m a y b e the m o s t e x t r a o r d i n a r y e x a m p l e in the history o f literature o f m e a n i n g unrelated to the experience o f reading and to the w o r k of w r i t i n g . W h a t Joyce o b v i o u s l y w o r k e d o n was a series of brief pastiches aligned in chronological order. T h e characters a n d plot of Ulysses p r o v i d e the material f o r t h e pastiche, a l t h o u g h Joyce w a n t s to t h i n k of the relation b e t w e e n the stylistic exercise a n d its anecdotal c o n text in m o r e o r g a n i c t e r m s . A n d so w e have a series of imitative fallacies. In w h a t w a y is t h e historical t r a n s f o r m a t i o n ( w h i c h is of c o u r s e n o t a d e v e l o p m e n t o r t h e m a t u r a t i o n of an o r g a n i s m ) o f English p r o s e styles "parallel" o r " a n a l o g o u s " to (and w h a t d o those w o r d s m e a n here?) t h e biological d e v e l o p m e n t o f an e m b r y o in a w o m b ? Also t h e b e g i n n i n g s of a m o d e r n writer's w o r k o b v i o u s l y in n o w a y resemble A n g l o - S a x o n ; t h e t r a n s f o r m a t i o n of an individual prose style reflects an experience of l a n g u a g e w h o l l y unrelated to the reasons f o r t h e difference b e t w e e n D i c k e n s and the Morte d'Arthur. Finally, the idea of a significant c o n n e c t i o n b e t w e e n M r s . P u r e f o y ' s gestation or t h e history o f English p r o s e styles t o Stephen's e m e r g e n c e as an artist is so a b s u r d that it is difficult even to f i n d the t e r m s in w h i c h to object to it.

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N o w 1 m a y of course be t a k i n g all these analogies t o o seriously, a n d Joyce's letter to B u d g e n , characteristically, m a n a g e s b o t h to s o u n d q u i t e earnest a n d to strike a c o m i c note: " B l o o m is the s p e r m a t o z o o n , t h e hospital, the w o m b , the nurse, the o v u m , S t e p h e n the e m b r y o . " 1 9 ( H e even adds: " H o w ' s that f o r H i g h ? " ) Joyce's shifty t o n e s u g g e s t s a w a g e r : 'let's see h o w m u c h I can be credited for, and, in t h e w o r s t of cases (if m y critics are u n c o m f o r t a b l e w i t h these analogies), it can always be a r gued that I p r o p o s e d t h e m w i t h t o n g u e in cheek.' It is t r u e that t h e " O x e n o f the S u n " analogies are n o t the sort of t h i n g l o o k e d at t o o closely b y the m o s t sophisticated of Joyce's admirers, b u t they have, f o r e x a m p l e , led Richard E l l m a n n to suggest that " M r s . P u r e f o y has lab o u r e d and b r o u g h t f o r t h a P u r e f o y k i n , English has l a b o u r e d a n d b r o u g h t f o r t h S t e p h e n , " and even t o say that " M r s . P u r e f o y ' s o n c o m i n g b a b y " is "paralleled b y the o u t g o i n g S t e p h e n " (he leaves t h e hospital b e f o r e B l o o m , w h o entered first and was " h o s p i t a b l y received b y the n u r s e " — w h o is, a c c o r d i n g to Joyce, t h e " o v u m " ) , S t e p h e n w h o , w i t h his friends, can also be t h o u g h t of, as they r u s h f r o m t h e hospital t o a p u b , as " t h e placental o u t p o u r i n g . . . (it is t h e a f t e r b i r t h as well as an cjaculative s p r a y ) . " 2 0 Such criticism is itself a j o k e , b u t m y p o i n t is that it is n o t u n a u t h o r i z e d b y the novel (not t o speak o f Joyce's suggestions f o r r e a d i n g t h e novel) and that a u t h o r i z a t i o n is itself a m o m e n t of significance in the s t o r y o f h o w literature has been t h o u g h t a b o u t . If t h e history of p h i l o s o p h y can n o l o n g e r m e a s u r e a p p r o x i m a t i o n s to t r u t h b u t m u s t instead be satisfied w i t h chronicling the m u t a t i o n s of fictions, and if h e r m e n e u t i c s can n o longer p r o v i d e a science of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n b u t itself b e c o m e s a stage in t h e history of t h e f o r m s of intelligibility, " O x e n of the S u n " m i g h t be seen as o n e o f t h e c o n t r i b u t i o n s to the literature section of such a history. Joyce initiates us to a radical separation of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n f r o m t h e p h e n o m e n o l o g y of reading. T h e a n n o u n c e d c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s a n d m e a n i n g s of Ulysses' episodes can be t h o u g h t of as a w a y n o t of elucidating t h e novel's sense, b u t of f o r c i n g us to sec that sense is a series of ingenious jokes on the signifier. It is the very p r o s e styles o f " O x e n o f t h e S u n " that are p a r o d i e d by their repetition in M r s . P u r e f o y ' s w o m b . A n d the idea of Stephen's literary o r spiritual b i r t h in this chapter is a m a g n i f i c e n t l y irresponsible way of u n d e r s t a n d i n g the insignificant role he plays in the e p i sode, as well as of i n t e r p r e t i n g t h e possibility (suggested b y Kenner 2 1 ) o f his having slugged M u l l i g a n (and thus r e p u d i a t e d the sterile past c o n nected w i t h Mulligan) in the interval b e t w e e n episodes 9 and 14. T h e L a w r e n t i a n (and, as I have s h o w n elsewhere, the M a l l a r m e a n 2 2 ) a t t e m p t to coerce l a n g u a g e into an espousal of the m o v e s of an individual c o n s c i o u s n e s s — m o v e s that an i m p e r s o n a l linguistic c o h e r e n c e necessarily " s k i p s , " to w h i c h such coherence is i n h e r e n t l y alien—is rejected in

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"Oxen of the Sun" as an insidious fallacy. And yet a whole set of conventional psychological and moral significances coexists quite comfortably in Joyce with a radical skepticism concerning the validity of any move whatsoever beyond the line of the signifier. (This cohabitation is quite familiar to us today. The Lacanians' ritualistic repetition of the word signifiant as the key to Lacan's radical rethinking of the Freudian unconscious has, for example, in no way affected the normative status, in their thought, of the psychologically and morally specific referent of a phallocentric heterosexuality.) The perception of human reality as a language effect has generally had the curious consequence of forestalling, of leaving no terms available for, the criticism of psychological, moral, and social orders elaborated by the quite different v i e w — n o w seen as epistemologically naive—of language as essentially descriptive of a preexistent real. The rhetorical criticism associated with Derrida and, more properly, de Man has much to say about the deconstructive effects of the figural on political or moral assertions, and very little to say about the strategic nature of its own analytic enterprise. The decision to treat history as rhetoric must itself be deconstructed—which is of course to say reconstructed—as a profoundly reactionary move: it deliberately ignores how networks of power can be independent of the subversive effect presumably inherent in their own discursive practices. The resistance of language to its own performance provides insufficient friction to curtail the operational efficiency of even the most "mystified" (but powerful) linguistic performances. Foucault, it seems to me, had the great merit of seeing that effects of power are indifferent to their rhetorical legitimacy, and that a predominantly rhetorical analysis of a society's discursive practices therefore runs the risk of collaborating with those coercive intentions, even while ceaselessly demonstrating their inescapably (but on the whole ineffectually) self-menacing nature. Ulysses substitutes for the interpretive ordeals posed by such writers as Lawrence, Mallarme, and Bataille a kind of affectless busyness, the comfortable if heavy work of finding all the connections in the light of which the novel can be made intelligible but not interpreted. The experimentalism of Ulysses is far from the genuine avant-gardism of Women in Love, Le Bleu du ciel, or almost any of Beckett's fictions. The intertextual criticism invited by Ulysses is the domestication of literature, a technique for making familiar the potentially traumatic seductions of reading. Even more: Ulysses eliminates reading as the ground of interpretation; or, to put this in other terms, it invites intertextual elucidations as a strategy to prohibit textual interpretations. In much contemporary criticism, reading no longer provides a hermeneutical ground of interpretive constraint. This is not to say that there should be or ever was one legitimate interpretation of each text, but rather that—in what we might call the critical

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p r o g e n y of Ulysses—texts are m a d e intelligible only b y the intra- and intertextual clues they drop. Ulysses is a text to be deciphered b u t n o t read. Joyce's schemas already provide a m o d e l of interpretive nihilism. T h e y propose, w i t h a kind of wild structural neatness, meanings so rem o t e f r o m our textual experience as to suggest that there is n o other basis for sense than the " l i n e " that can be d r a w n between t w o textual points. T h e exegetical w o r k to be d o n e is e n o r m o u s , but it has already been d o n e by the a u t h o r and w e simply have to catch u p w i t h h i m . If criticism always rewrites the texts to w h i c h it s o m e w h a t deceptively adheres, Joyce minimizes the losses inevitably incurred by literature in its critical appropriation by directing the appropriating process. In a sense, the u n h a p p y destiny of the literary w o r k is that it cannot avoid being read. H o w e v e r m u c h the writer may w o r k to create the ideal reader for his text, a certain inattentiveness in the reading of texts defeats that w o r k , thus saving us f r o m such totalitarian projects. We perhaps sensitize o u r selves to effects that the a u t h o r is either unwilling or unable to include a m o n g those to w h i c h he w o u l d have us respond by the uneven r h y t h m of o u r reading, by a certain laxity in o u r responses, a willingness to miss things that can b e c o m e an escape f r o m the i m a g e into w h i c h the text w o u l d t r a n s f o r m us. Ulysses allows for n o such laxity, and rather than b o t h e r — a s , say, Stendhal does in his anxious and intricate effort to f o r g e the sensibility w o r t h y of reading h i m — w i t h seductive conversionary tactics, the Joycean text escapes f r o m the reader's d a n g e r o u s f r e e d o m merely by insisting that it be read w i t h an excruciatingly close attention and a nearly s u p e r h u m a n m e m o r y . It asks that w e be n o t h i n g b u t the exegetical machine necessary to complete its sense. Ulysses is constantly p r o p o s i n g h o m e w o r k , w o r k w e can d o outside the text (checking D u b l i n geography, rereading H o m e r , Dante, Goethe, Shakespeare, A r n o l d , the theosophists, Gaelic legends), and in thus insisting on h o w m u c h it needs us, it also paradoxically saves itself f r o m us. T h e texture of Joyce's novel is entirely remarkable in that it is at once dense and e m p t y ; it i m p r i s o n s us by the very moves that eject us f r o m the text, and it insists on an u n i n t e r r u p t e d attention not exactly to itself b u t to its instructions for its o w n f u r t h e r elaboration. Ulysses promises a critical Utopia: the final elucidation of its sense, the day w h e n all the connections will have been discovered and collected in a critical B o o k that w o u l d objectively repeat Ulysses, which, in being the exegetical double of its source, w o u l d e x press the quidditas of Joyce's novel, w o u l d be Ulysses replayed as the w h o l e truth of Ulysses. *

*

*

Finally—and perhaps n o t so s t r a n g e l y — t h e very nihilism I have referred to goes along w i t h a p r o m i s e of salvation. N o t only does Ulysses keep its

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conservative ideology o f the self distinct from its increasing emphasis on the finality o f language's productiveness; not only docs it display a perspectival technique that brings to psychological realism the prestige o f a Thomistic confidence in art's ability to radiate with the essence o f things; Joyce's novel also refers us to a mind purified o f "impossible ordeals" or "struggles" and elevated to the serene and redemptive management o f its cultural acquisitions. Where Ulysses really leads us is to Joyce's mind; it illuminates his cultural consciousness. At the end o f the reader's exegetical travails lies the promise o f an Assumption, o f being raised up and identified with the idea o f culture made man. Joyce incarnates the enormous authority o f sublimation in our culture—of sublimation viewed not as a nonspecific eroticizing o f cultural interests but as the appeasement and even transcendence o f anxiety. Ulysses is modernism's monument to that authority, although—in what I take to be the most authentic risk Joyce takes in producing this monument—it also alludes to the anxiety from which we escape in our exegetical relocation o f the work itself within the authorial consciousness at its origin. I am referring to certain moments in the representation o f Bloom's solitude—not to his social solitude as a Jew in Ireland, or even to his estrangement from Molly, but rather to a kind o f cosmic lack o f linkage, a singleness that can be rendered only by images o f his floating in interplanetary space. In one o f the moral cliches to which this presumably revolutionary novel has given rise, Stephen's coldness and inability to love are often opposed to Bloom's warmth and concern for others. But Stephen's solitude is psychological (it includes his estrangement from his father and his unshakable sense o f a crime against his mother); Bloom's aloneness is metaphysical. Furthermore, Stephen is as sociable and loquacious a boozer as all the other characters we meet in the editorial offices o f the Freeman or in Barney Kiernan's pub; he too spends his day in talk and even plots his oratorical effects (in "Scylla and Charybdis"), and (in "Aeolus") he blushes with pleasure ("his blood wooed by grace o f language and gesture") as he listens to the rhetorical flourishes in J. J . O'Molloy's recitation o f the lawyer Seymour B u s h e s "polished period" describing "the Moses o f Michelangelo in the Vatican." If, in "Ithaca," both B l o o m and Stephen are said to be comforted by the spectacle o f "the heaventree o f stars hung with humid nightblue fruit" when they move from the house to the garden, it is B l o o m who meditates on "the parallax or parallactic drift o f socalled fixed stars, in reality evermoving wanderers from immeasurably remote eons to infinitely remote futures" and who, alone after Stephen leaves, feels "the cold o f interstellar space, thousands o f degrees below freezing point on the absolute zero o f Fahrenheit, Centigrade or Reaumcr: the incipient intimations o f proximate dawn." And in the de Quincy passage from " O x e n o f the S u n , "

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w h i c h J. S. A t h e r t o n rightly sees as "a m o s t remarkable e x a m p l e of Joyce's " p o w e r of c o m b i n a t i o n , " " B l o o m gazes at the triangle o n the label of the bottle of bass until it becomes a 'triangled sign u p o n the forehead of T a u r u s ' — c o m b i n i n g lingam and yoni in one symbol, w h i c h itself replicates the u n d e r l y i n g s y m b o l of the chapter, and placing it in the depths of space." 2 3 It is the relentlessly tedious " I t h a c a , " w i t h its nearly unreadable scientific expositions of such things as the m a n y uses and virtues of water and the recent restrictions on water c o n s u m p t i o n in D u b l i n ( w h e n B l o o m turns o n a faucet), w h i c h , precisely because of the impersonality of its technique, becomes a kind of Pascalian meditation on the lack of c o n nectedness not only between h u m a n beings b u t also between the h u m a n and the cosmos. We m i g h t of course also be t e m p t e d to see in the lostness of B l o o m an i m a g e for the historical situation of Ireland itself: a c o u n t r y w i t h n o consensus a b o u t its past, little h o p e for its future, and cut off, b o t h physically and culturally, f r o m the rest of E u r o p e . T h e anxiety that Ulysses massively struggles to t r a n s c e n d — h o w e v e r w e choose to u n d e r stand its origins—is that of disconnectedness. It is perhaps here that Joyce's dependence o n his readers is m o s t p r o n o u n c e d , for it is their intra- and extratextual w o r k that reconstitutes his m i n d as the serene repository of the resources of o u r language and culture. F r o m this p e r spective it hardly matters if the H o m e r i c correspondences are, to say the least, n o t always exact or that the pastiches of " O x e n of the Sun" are n o t always very close to their originals. 2 6 Ulysses is c o m p o s e d as a m o d e l of the cultural f r a g m e n t a t i o n it represents in various ways. F u r t h e r m o r e , Joyce's authority depends on the idiosyncratic nature of the culture he reconstructs; Ulysses gives us back our culture as his culture. For authors, the anguish of paternity is experienced as an uncertainty a b o u t the p r o p e r t y of their w o r k , a b o u t w h o o w n s it and if it is indeed their o w n . " F a t h e r h o o d , in the sense of conscious b e g e t t i n g , " Stephen announces in "Scylla and C h a r y b d i s , " "is u n k n o w n to m a n . " It is " o n that m y s t e r y and n o t on the m a d o n n a w h i c h the c u n n i n g Italian intellect flung to the m o b of E u r o p e the church is f o u n d e d and f o u n d e d i r r e m o v ably because f o u n d e d , like the w o r l d , m a c r o and m i c r o c o s m , u p o n the void. U p o n incertitude, u p o n u n l i k e l i h o o d " (170). In o u r tireless elucidation of Ulysses, w e certify Joyce's paternity, w e bring his w o r k back to h i m , w e eliminate w h a t Stephen describes as the natural e n m i t y between father and son b y s h o w i n g h o w the b o o k gives birth to its a u t h o r . E x e gesis reveals that Ulysses signifies Joyce's m u l t i t u d i n o u s stylistic and structural intentions; it d e m o n s t r a t e s that the w o r k glorifies its creator j u s t as C h r i s t — c o n c e n t r a t i n g and p u r i f y i n g in his person a universal h u m a n t r u t h — g l o r i f i e s the Father. A n d for the w o r t h y disciples of Ulysses—which w e should n o w be able to recognize as m o d e r n i s m ' s m o s t

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impressive e x a m p l e of the West's long and varied tribute to the a u t h o r i t y of the F a t h e r — t h e r e are of course e n o r m o u s rewards. Ulysses does n o t restore cultural continuities p r e s u m a b l y b r o k e n by the m o d e r n age. Indeed, in a m a n n e r consistent w i t h its nihilistic indifference to any relation between o u r experience of reading it and those concealed structures it signifies, Joyce's novel asks o n l y that we reconstruct the structurally c o herent f r a g m e n t s o f j o y c e ' s o w n cultural consciousness. It is n o t Western culture that matters, b u t the coherence of a particular b r o k e n version of it. Joyce is faithful to o u r h u m a n i s t tradition at a deeper level, in his reenactment of its assumptions and p r o m i s e that the possession of culture will transcend anxiety and perhaps even r e d e e m history. Intertextual criticism is the practical activity that testifies to o u r espousal of a cultural ethos of the r e d e m p t i v e authority and mastery of art; it is, in the case of Ulysses, the imitatio that allows us to j o i n Joyce in a c o m m u n i t y built on identifications and recognitions. Verbal c o n sciousness in Ulysses is n o t — a s it is in Lawrence or Bataille—a process of clarification repeatedly menaced by the personal and social pressures antagonistic to all clarifications; rather it is a conquest the m u l t i t u d i n o u s f o r m s of w h i c h are disguised but never threatened by the novel's t e x tures. T h e c o m m u n i t y of Ulysses and its exegetes is r e d e m p t i v e in its failure to a c k n o w l e d g e any operative relation between e x p e r i e n c e — o f this text or of reality—and the f o r m s of intelligibility it proposes. It is the Vita N u o v a in w h i c h Joyce thrillingly proposes that w e spend o u r life w i t h h i m . T h e call is very hard not to heed. E v e n in w r i t i n g "against Ulysses," w e can only feel a great sadness in leaving i t — t o stop w o r k i n g o n Ulysses is like a fall f r o m grace.

CHAPTER

Pynchon,

8

Paranoia, and

Literature

Any novel that uses the word "paranoia" as frequently as Gravity's Rainbow does is likely to make the reader somewhat paranoid about the very frequency of its use. N o t only is it the narrator's most cherished w o r d and concept (it even gives birth to a new English verb: Tyrone Slothrop "paranoids f r o m door to d o o r " in a hotel 1 ); the characters in Pynchon's work also repeatedly refer to themselves as paranoid. There is the hitch: since when do paranoids label themselves paranoid? When they do, they are of course speaking for others, using the label for themselves before it can be used against them. "You must think I'm really paranoid about people's opinion of what I w r i t e " can be given to us as: " I ' m really paranoid about people's opinion of what I w r i t e , " but the j u d g m e n t o f t h a t anxiety as paranoid can only come f r o m others. These others can also exist in me, and I can make a clinical j o k e of m y o w n worries, but I wouldn't have them if I wasn't also convinced of their rightness. " I " can never be the subject of "I am paranoid" as an uncontested, undivided judgment. T h e word "paranoia" has had an extraordinarily complex medical, psychiatric, and psychoanalytic history. I have been using it (as Pynchon also tends to use it) as if it were synonymous with something like unfounded suspicions about a hostile environment, but the fear of persecution is only one aspect of a symptomatological picture that has included such things as delusions of grandeur, schizophrenic dissociation, and erotomania. T h e concept has been at the center of considerable classificatory turbulence, especially with respect to whether it should be counted as one of the schizophrenic psychoses. 2 M o r e than any other psychoanalytic term, "paranoia" has been the focus of a nosological disarray not unlike the symptomatic panic of paranoia itself. There is, in both cases, interpretive distress. Freud explained paranoia as a defense against a desired homosexual attack, a defense depending on the success of a strenuous interpretive effort. T h e potential benefits of interpretive

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control are dramatically illustrated by the ease with which Dr. Schreber, the subject of Freud's most celebrated analysis of paranoia, transcends his paranoid anxiety and even changes a plot of cosmic hostility into an epic of cosmic self-centering. God's desire to use Schreber as a "wife" in order to engender a new race rewrites catastrophe as apotheosis; the dreaded attack will still take place, but in its idealized, divine form it can finally be recognized as an object of desire. Schreber ends exactly where he began: anticipating the pleasure of being destroyed as a result of taking a passive homosexual role. But he must first analyze the components of "I love him" in ways that will allow a homosexual desire to be satisfied without danger. In the paranoid's case, "I love him" is equivalent to "I love being attacked by him"; only if this is reformulated as "I hate being attacked by a hostile world" can a megalomaniacal defense against persecution become powerful enough to make Schreber desirable to God himself. It is as if a defensive self-love were contagious or perhaps even operated as an argument that "convinces" God of Schreber's irresistible appeal. The paranoid stage of Schreber's illness allows the original masochistic wish to become conscious by creating the conditions in which it can be reformulated as a triumphant narcissism. The original (and repressed) interpretation of a "feminine" passivity as self-annihilation is— in a move that a biological realism perversely authorizes—reinterpreted as self-perpetuation. More interesting to us is Freud's recognition of Schreber's interpretive acuity. At the end of his analysis of the case, Freud notes a striking similarity between Schreber's delusions and his own theory about those delusions. The Senatpräsident's "rays of God," for example, "which are made up of a condensation of the sun's rays, of nerve-fibers, and of spermatozoa, are in reality nothing else than a concrete representation and projection outward of libidinal cathexes"; they may be what Freud calls "endopsychic perceptions" of the very processes that he himself has proposed to explain paranoia. With just a hint of paranoia about the possibility that he may be accused of having lifted his theory of paranoia from Schreber's book, Freud protests, in advance of any such accusation, that he can "call a friend and fellow-specialist to witness that [he] had developed [his] theory of paranoia before [he] became acquainted with the contents of Schreber's book. It remains for the future," Freud concludes, "to decide whether there is more delusion in my theory than I should like to admit, or whether there is more truth in Schreber's delusion than other people are as yet prepared to believe." 3 The delusion, however, may be inherent in the move that predicts some future sorting out of truth from delusion in either Schreber's fantasies or Freud's theories. What else could the truth of paranoia be than a replication, on a different discursive register, of the paranoid's delusions?

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Freud's concluding remarks bizarrely suggest that there is s o m e ordering t r u t h of p a r a n o i a — o f paranoia as distinct f r o m the classificatory and theoretical discourse that constitutes it—different f r o m b o t h paranoid ravings and theories of paranoia. T h i s is precisely h o w P y n c h o n defines paranoia itself: it is the "reflex of seeking other orders behind the visible" (219). T h e paranoid restlessness in the theory of paranoia—evidenced in Freud's insistence that he had the theory before studying the case as well as in his uneasy perception of the specular relation between case and t h e o r y — i s expressed as a mistrust of the s y m p t o m a t i c language of paranoia. T h e theoretician distrusts the theorizing activity of paranoia—as if the " t r u t h " of paranoia m i g h t t u r n o u t to be that theory is always a paranoid s y m p t o m . But Freud has perhaps already accepted this conclusion in continuing to h o p e for a t r u t h b y w h i c h the value of theory can be measured, a truth that w o u l d finally rescue psychoanalytic discourse f r o m the theorizing that, it is feared, may be n o t h i n g m o r e than a m a n i festation of paranoid behavior. T h e theoretician's distrust of t h e o r y — t h e sense that w h a t theory seeks to signify is hidden s o m e w h e r e behind it—repeats the paranoid's distrust of the visible. But the Schreber case also points to a w h o l l y different alternative: the embrace of theory as final and the renunciation of any h o p e that t r u t h will finally render theory obsolete. T h e c u s t o m a r y distinction between delusions and t r u t h too accurately replicates the illusional structures w e may wish to understand. If n o n p a r a n o i d theorizing is a contradiction in terms, there may b e — a n d P y n c h o n will help us w i t h this—a way to crack the replicative m i r r o r so that the theory of paranoia will send back a partially unrecognizable image of paranoia. K n o w l e d g e — b u t d o w e even need that w o r d ? — w o u l d then have to be redefined in t e r m s of the inaccuracy of a replication. *

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For all the shifts of interpretive perspective on paranoia, the w o r d , faithful to its e t y m o l o g y (a Greek w o r d designating a distracted or deranged mind), has always designated a mental disorder. At least until Gravity's Rainbow. All the paranoid thinking in the novel is p r o b a b l y justified, and therefore really n o t paranoid at all. I say " p r o b a b l y " bccause P y n c h o n is less interested in vindicating his characters' suspicions of plots than in universalizing and, in a sense, depathologizing the paranoid structure of t h o u g h t . Were he content to certify that all the imagined plots are real plots, he w o u l d be m a k i n g merely a political point, a point for w h i c h he has frequently been credited and w h i c h u n d o u b t e d l y helps to explain the popularity of his i m m e n s e l y difficult w o r k . This is w h a t w e m i g h t call the sixties' side of P y n c h o n , P y n c h o n as defender of such lovable slobs as Slothrop and, in V., B e n n y P r o f a n e the schlemiel against the i m -

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personal efficiency of i n f o r m a t i o n systems and international cartels. T h e narrator of Gravity's Rainbow, true, does lend his authority to his characters' paranoid suspicions; in fact he frequently passes on i n f o r m a t i o n that justifies their w o r s t fears. T h u s the wildest paranoid imagination w o u l d p r o b a b l y n o t c o m e up w i t h the incredible but true story of IG Farben's surveillance of S l o t h r o p right back to his infancy. T h e Pavlovian Lazio J a m f ' s conditioning of baby Tyrone's h a r d o n s ( m o r e o n this later) has to be seen in the light of J a m f ' s c o m p l e x business deals between the t w o w o r l d wars, involving supercartels that were themselves perhaps involved in efforts to ruin the m a r k as part of a strategy to get G e r m a n y out of paying its war debts. Was Slothrop "sold to IG Farben like a side of b e e f , " did they finance J a m f ' s experiments on h i m , has he been " u n d e r their o b s e r v a t i o n — m - m a y b e since he was born? Yaahhh" (333). N o n e of this is absolutely certain (except for J a m f ' s w o r k w i t h Slothrop's infant hardon, w h i c h has been described m u c h earlier in the novel as historical fact), and the business deals and connections elliptically referred to are m i n d - b o g g l i n g in their intricate interconnectedness. But if IG Farben's sinister interest in Slothrop is not u n a m b i g u o u s l y confirmed, P y n c h o n clearly does n o t expect us to find Slothrop's m o s t paranoid scenarios i m plausible. P y n c h o n himself certainly has n o p r o b l e m w i t h the cartelconspiracy ideas. War, he writes, is j u s t a coverup, a "spectacle" or "diversion f r o m the real m o v e m e n t s of the W a r . " " T h e true w a r is a celebration of m a r k e t s , " as its "real business . . . is b u y i n g and selling, the m u r d e r i n g and the violence are self-policing, and can be entrusted to non-professionals" (122). A n " o u t f i t like Shell" has " n o real country, n o side in any war, n o specific face or heritage: tapping instead o u t of that global stratum, m o s t deeply laid, f r o m w h i c h all the appearances of c o r porate o w n e r s h i p really s p r i n g " (283). T h e paranoid reflex, we r e m e m b e r , seeks " o t h e r orders behind the visible." Speaking in another passage of the paranoia often n o t e d u n d e r the hallucinatory d r u g Oneirine, P y n c h o n writes: "Like other sorts of paranoia, it is n o t h i n g less than the onset, the leading edge, or the discovery ["discovery," not "suspicion"] that everything is connected, e v e r y thing in the C r e a t i o n " (820). A n d , as the Jesuit Father Rapier preaches d u r i n g s o m e undefined C o n v e n t i o n in the Z o n e : " O n c e the technical means of control have reached a certain size, a certain degree of being connected one to another, the chances for f r e e d o m are over for g o o d " (627). T h e paranoid intuition is, then, one of an invisible interconnectedness. Technology can collect the i n f o r m a t i o n necessary to d r a w c o n necting lines a m o n g the m o s t disparate data; and the very d r a w i n g of those lines depends on w h a t m i g h t be called a conspiratorial i n t e r c o n nectedness a m o n g those interested in data collection. To put things into

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relation is already a conspiratorial move, o r at the very least a gesture of control. In Gravity's Rainbow the discovery of connections is identical to the discovery of plots. T h e plotters get t o g e t h e r — t h e y " c o n n e c t " — i n order to plot the connections that will give t h e m p o w e r over others. T h e orders behind the visible are not necessarily—are perhaps n o t essentially—orders different f r o m the visible; rather they are the visible repeated as structure. Paranoid thinking hesitates between the suspicion that the truth is w h o l l y obscured b y the visible and the equally disturbing sense that the t r u t h may be a sinister, invisible design in the visible. To have "a paranoid structure w o r t h y of the n a m e , " you have n o t only to " s h o w s o m e i n t e r l o c k " a m o n g individuals, events, and companies you assumed were unrelated, but also to establish different or parallel lines of connectedness (678). Paranoia repeats p h e n o m e n a as design. W h a t you t h o u g h t was a chance j u x t a p o s i t i o n may t u r n out to be a deliberate c o u pling. If that possibility inspires panic, it is also desired. Would w e ever w a n t a life w i t h o u t paranoid terror? "If there is s o m e t h i n g c o m f o r t ing—religious, if you w a n t — a b o u t paranoia, there is still also antiparanoia, w h e r e n o t h i n g is connected to anything, a condition n o t m a n y of us can bear for l o n g " (506). N o t only that: to escape f r o m paranoia w o u l d be to escape f r o m the m o v e m e n t that is life. Slothrop, on the r u n in the Z o n e , thinks h o w nice it w o u l d be to lie still for a while w i t h the heartbeat of the y o u n g w o m a n w h o shelters h i m one night: "isn't that every paranoid's wish; to perfect m e t h o d s of i m m o b i l i t y ? " (667). O n l y by freezing things can w e prevent t h e m f r o m connecting, f r o m c o m i n g together to f o r m those invisible designs that may include us w i t h i n t h e m w i t h o u t o u r k n o w i n g it. For all the paranoid scares in Gravity's Rainbow, it w o u l d be even scarier if w e began to stop suspecting hidden orders behind the visible. " E i t h e r they have put h i m here for a r e a s o n , " Slothrop speculates d u r i n g " t h e anti-paranoid part o f his cycle," " o r he's j u s t here. H e isn't sure that he wouldn't, actually, rather have that reason" (506). N o t that there's m u c h danger of r u n n i n g short of r e a s o n s — o r of i m a g ining that our being a n y w h e r e can be a w h o l l y plotless event. Paranoia is a necessary and desired structure of t h o u g h t . It is also a p e r m a n e n t one, w h i c h means that there is n o t h i n g substantially n e w in the latest version of it. To p u t this in the c o n t e m p o r a r y j a r g o n w i t h w h i c h Gravity's Rainbow is obsessed: paranoia is a necessary p r o d u c t of all i n f o r m a tion systems. T h e Pynchonian opposition between T h e y (IG Farben) and We (Slothrop, Roger Mexico, Pirate Prentice) is a replay of the o p p o s i tion of Slothrop's Puritan forefathers' polarity of the Elect and the P r e t erite. I n f o r m a t i o n control is the c o n t e m p o r a r y version of God's eternal k n o w l e d g e of each individual's ultimate d a m n a t i o n or salvation; and b o t h

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theology and computer technology naturally produce paranoid fears about how w e are hooked into the System, about the connections it has in store for us. Can we escape being manipulated—perhaps even destroyed—by such systems? Familiar tactics of protest and subversion create local disturbances that are easily forgotten and leave the most menacing paranoid structures perfectly intact. We should be suspicious of some of the appealing alternatives that Gravity's Rainbow offers to its own paranoically conceived apocalypses. I am thinking especially of love, anarchy, and randomness, all of which bring us back to Pynchon's credentials as a hero of the counterculture. Perhaps nothing is treated with a more tender seriousness in Gravity's Rainbow than Roger Mexico's love for Jessica Swanlake. Simply by existing, that love opposes the war ("They are in love. Fuck the war."), but the opposition, as the parenthetical quote suggests, is more rhetorical protest than anything else. Their love is the idealized version of Roger's pissing on the shiny table and on all the b i g w i g s sitting around it in Mossmoon's office (an act reminiscent of such engaging antics of the early seventies as Jerry Rubin's occupation of the New York Stock Exchange). Pynchon's work generously, and ambiguously, recapitulates the saintly assumptions of Rubinesque subversion: profound social change will not result from head-on assaults (terror is ineffective and unacceptable, revolution is unthinkable in the West, and even revolutionary regimes have shown themselves to be changes of personnel unaccompanied by changes in assumptions about the legitimacy of power), but rather from a kind of aggressively seductive subversion of the seriousness with which networks of power conduct their business. But, as we shall see, oppressive seriousness can be corrupted only if it is recognized that paranoid thought itself is inherently unserious, and not by violent or nonviolent opposition to the plots of power. The counterculture style of the sixties can provide nothing more than the always appealing historical inspiration for more complex models of nonoppositional resistance. Roger and Jessica's love is both venerated and discredited in Gravity's Rainbow. The love is a kind of "secession" from war, "the beginnings of gentle withdrawal . . . both know, clearly, it's better together, snuggled in, than back out in the paper, fires, khaki, steel of the Home Front. That, indeed, the Home Front is something of a fiction and lie, designed, not too subtly, to draw them apart, to subvert love in favor of work, abstraction, required pain, bitter death" (47). On the contrary: their snuggled state, their gentle withdrawal is the fiction (with its sentimental apotheosis on the evening their hearts are buoyed as they listen to Christmas songs in a church somewhere in Kent), a marginal, harmless fiction that Jessica will drop in order to return to her husband and the securities of "work, abstraction, required pain, bitter death."

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Is randomness a more effective route of escape? Power depends on the control of information, on the ordering of data; what happens w h e n data resist the ordering process? This is presented as a particularly seductive possibility in Gravity's Rainbow (as is anarchy, the political corollary of u n p r o g r a m m e d events and acts), although Pynchon also presents the random as nothing more than a m o m e n t a r y malfunctioning of the cybernetic machine, one which the machine is fully equipped to take account of. T h u s the messed-up pinball machines sent by Chicago gangsters to "one Alfonso Tracy, Princeton '06, St. Louis C o u n t r y Club, moving into petro-chemicals in a big way," and stored in a gigantic masonic hall in "the green little river t o w n of M o u t h o r g a n , Missouri" (678—679): has it happened "at real random, preserving at least our faith in Malfunctioning as still something beyond their grasp," or is there somewhere "in the w o o d file cabinets . . . a set of real blueprints telling exactly h o w all these pinball machines were rewired—a randomness deliberately simulated?" (683). T h e control of randomness has been m e n tioned before, and not merely as a possibility. Rocket-City "is set u p deliberately To Avoid Symmetry, Allow Complexity, Introduce Terror (from the Preamble to the Articles of Immachination)—but tourists have to connect the look of it back to things they remember f r o m their times and planet—back to the wine bottle smashed in the basin, the bristlecone pines outracing Death for millennia, concrete roads abandoned years ago, hairdos of the late 1930s" (346). T h e random itself can easily be programmed. There is, however, something else—something m o r e sinister but perhaps more promising—in the passage just quoted. As part of an "immachinating" strategy, T h e y duplicate m n e m o n i c images originally outside their control. T h e novel is full of references to enigmatic and frequently eerie replications. Lyle Bland comes back f r o m his "transm u r a l " voyages through space and time "raving about the presences he has found out there, members of an astral IG, whose mission . . . is past secular good and evil: distinctions like that are meaningless out there"(187). O r : people w h o get hit by lightning are carried off by bareback dwarves to places that look like the world they left, " b u t it'll be different. Between congruent and identical there seems to be another class of look-alike that only finds the lightning heads. Another world laid d o w n on the previous one and to all appearances no different. Hz-ha! But the lightning-struck know, all right!" (774) Slothrop, walking with Katje on the esplanade along the beach at Nice, suddenly feels that the brilliant whitecaps can't be getting their light f r o m the real sky above them. " H e r e it is again, that identical-looking O t h e r World—is he gonna have this to worry about, now? What th'—lookit those trees—each long frond hanging, stung, dizzying, in laborious drypoint against the sky, each so

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perfectly placed" (262). Finally, the entire Z o n e may be a spectral d o u b l e of the real w o r l d , a collection of images simulating scenes f r o m all over the universe: In the Zone, in these days, there is endless simulation—standing waves in the water, large drone-birds, so well-known as to have nicknames among the operators, wayward balloons, flotsam from other theatres of war (Brazilian oildrums, whisky cases stenciled for Fort-Lammy), observers from other galaxies, episodes of smoke, moments of high albedo—your real targets are hard to come by. (570) H o w are w e to understand all these references to simulations and d o u bling? T h e hidden d o u b l e can inspire the m o s t panicky paranoid suspicions. A m I being given the real thing or an ontological look-alike? T h u s d o u b l i n g w o u l d seem to be merely one aspect of the pattern of events in Gravity's Rainbow that gives rise to the paranoid c o m p u l s i o n or "reflex of seeking other orders behind the visible." B u t w e should look at that reflex m o r e closely in order to d e t e r m i n e if it is an appropriate response to p h e n o m e n a of doubling and simulation. Enzian, the leader of the Southwest African natives transplanted by the G e r m a n s to E u r o p e and n o w in pursuit of the rocket's secret and site, comes to w o n d e r if he's pursuing the w r o n g object. Are the H e r e r o s " s u p p o s e d to be the K a b balists out here . . . the scholar-magicians of the Z o n e , w i t h s o m e w h e r e in it a Text, to be picked to pieces, annotated, explicated, and m a s t u r bated till it's all squeezed l i m p of its last d r o p ? " T h e y had of course assumed that the rocket was "this holy T e x t , " their Torah. " W h a t else? Its symmetries, its latencies, the cuteness of it enchanted and seduced us while the real Text persisted, s o m e w h e r e else, in its darkness, o u r d a r k ness" (606). Is the rocket the real Text? This question is an u r g e n t o n e n o t only for Pynchon's characters b u t also for us. W h a t if, as Enzian suggests, the rocket-text has seduced and blinded us to an even m o r e i m p o r t a n t text, s o m e t h i n g in the w o r k that it is even m o r e necessary to read correctly than the rocket, s o m e t h i n g that w o u l d be the real key to its sense? Indeed, as w e have seen, P y n c h o n teases us w i t h this possibility in m o r e than one way. T h e rocket and the w a r for w h i c h it was built are j u s t coverups of the true war, w h i c h is "a celebration of m a r k e t s " and w h o s e "real business . . . is b u y i n g and selling." B u t if s o m e t h i n g like international cartels is the real text that the paranoid imagination should be reading, then we, like Enzian, are being deceived by all the p r i m e time and space being given to the rocket. We cannot resolve the issue simply by saying that Pynchon's real subject is h o w his characters are victimized by the deception, and that in order to read that text the reader has to be set straight a b o u t the true center of historical power. For in fact the p r e -

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sumed real text is as obscure to us as it is to Enzian. Pynchon outlines some of the extraordinarily complex moves of international buying and selling, the durable financial connectedness a m o n g nations f r o m which wars would merely divert us, but he also raises the possibility of a plot for which the cartelized state itself is merely a screen. T h e use of war to establish "neither Red c o m m u n i s m nor an unhindered Right, but a rational structure in which business would be the true, the rightful authority" would, in comparison with that plot, be nothing m o r e than "a damned parlor g a m e , " which "even the masses believe." Are cartels the ultimate plotters? International business interests may be providing just another front, behind which lie still "other orders," orders that might involve ("if one were paranoid e n o u g h " to believe this) a collaboration between the living and the dead, "between both sides of the Wall, matter and spirit" (192-193). But is it even necessary to go that far, to evoke, as Lyle Bland does after his transmural voyage, "an astral IG?" What exactly are the earthly Shell and IG Farben? H o w are we to understand the historical referentiality of those names when, in the novel, they refer to cartels obsessed with the predictive power of Slothrop's erections? Is there an actual place—on earth or in space, in life or in d e a t h — w h e r e paranoid suspicion can finally be satisfied, put to rest? If such a place exists, the reader of Gravity's Rainbow will never enjoy its comforts. C o m p a r e d to Pynchon's novel, Joyce's Ulysses, for all the work it requires, is play for a child-detective. Certainly Joyce wants us to suffer, but there will also be a term to our suffering. T h e puzzles of Ulysses are like stations of the cross; they are ritual agonies t h r o u g h which we must pass in order finally to be at one, far above the consciousness of any character in the novel, with Joyce's remarkably cohesive consciousness. N o t h i n g could be m o r e different f r o m Gravity's Rainbow. Far f r o m holding out the promise of a postexegetical superiority to the world it represents, Pynchon's w o r k permanently infects us with the paranoid anxieties of its characters. Just keeping track of all the plots—and their incredible interconnectedness—is a near impossibility. T h e most i m p o r tant facts about the rocket are either shrouded in impenetrable secrecy or simply ignored. What exactly is the Schwarzgerät? Were the infant T y rone's hardons conditioned by the smell of Imipolex G (even though the experiments took place years before Jamf developed the plastic for IG Farben), a smell that s o m e h o w precedes the arrival of the rockets t h e m selves over London? M o r e important, what does this casualness mean? Is it even important to get all the information straight? Such questions can generate the most extreme anxieties, and yet the information we do get—such as the account of Jamf's experiments with little T y r o n e — d o little to allay them. For the major anxiety provoked by Gravity's Rainbow is ontological rather than epistemological. T h e char-

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acters themselves frequently worry about what they k n o w and don't know; but they too, as we have seen in Slothrop's uneasiness on the esplanade at Nice, begin to wonder about their world's identity. Is the Z o n e a part of Europe, and if not what is it? For the reader, the characters themselves become part of the question. We have enough information about Slothrop to say w h o he is, but as the novel progresses, especially as he begins " t o thin" and to scatter into the Zone, the much m o r e disturbing question is raised of what he is. M o r e generally, realistic passages are casually juxtaposed with such surrealist tidbits as Slothrop's excursion into, a m o n g other things, a kind of homosexual western w h e n he follows his m o u t h harp d o w n a toilet, and the by n o w celebrated adventures of Byron the Bulb. Is Gravity's Rainbow serious about history? Are the categories of serious and nonserious even relevant to it? What is Gravity's Rainbow? And whose side is Pynchon on? Could he be one of T h e m ? To the extent that such questions are justified, they testify to Pynchon's success in making us move on the same field of paranoid anxiety as his characters. Pynchon willingly accepts a writer's unavoidable complicity with the plots that torture his characters. If literature is to have a potential for political resistance, that potential will have to be disengaged f r o m literature's very collaboration with the systems it would oppose. In making literature continuous with both the creation and the suspicion of orders in other areas of life—in systems as diverse as Puritan theology, C a p tain Marvel comics, international cartels, and computer technology— Pynchon denies literature its status as a privileged f o r m maker and insists on its inescapable complicity with the most sinister plotmaking activities and strategies of control. By taunting us with the secrets of its o w n hidden (or inexistent) orders, Gravity's Rainbow places us in a predicament not too different f r o m Slothrop's. To say this is to see h o w far we are f r o m the comforting image of Pynchon the good guy (a sort of authorial version of Roger Mexico), anxious to work out some humane alternative to the impersonal and dehumanizing technique of control made available to the unscrupulous few by modern technology. Such alternatives can be nothing more than fantasy resting points within paranoid trains of thought. And it is not only because Pynchon is a plotmaking novelist that we are bound to suspect that he is working against us. Although it is obviously not a question of Pynchon's being on the side of the oppressors in the sense of sympathizing with their ambitions, he is on their side in a sense that is true for all of us. We cannot, that is, help being an object of suspicion for others. To inspire interest is to be guaranteed a paranoid reading, just as we must inevitably be suspicious of the interpretations we inspire. Paranoia is an inescapable interpretive doubling of presence. If, then, there is no escape f r o m the paranoid structure of thought,

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there may also be no escape f r o m the murderous opposition generated by that structure. T h e polarity of We and They in Gravity's Rainbow is a paranoid polarity, and They are all the m o r e threatening in that We can " k n o w " them only through our suspicions about them. And, as I have suggested, that polarity may even be repeated in the relation between the reader and the text. T h e latter mystifies us not so much because of the information it may be hiding, but above all because of the success with which it hides its o w n nature. It is as if we could k n o w everything and still not k n o w what kind of text Gravity's Rainbow is. It would not exactly be a question of something missing, but rather of the text's real nature as a kind of superior intelligible double of the text we read. P y n chon's novel would signify nothing but itself, without, however, letting us move beyond the opaque surface of the signifying narrative. And that opacity would constitute T h o m a s Pynchon as the reader's They; he is the enemy text. *

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There may, however, be another way to think about this. It is a peculiarity of the paranoid structure to combine opposition with doubling; the former is, in fact, a function of the latter. T h e paranoid sees the visible as a simulated double of the real; it deceptively repeats the real. O r , more accurately, it deceitfully repeats the real: such doubleness would not occur if there were no intention to deceive. Otherwise, so paranoia reasons, we would have the Real Text. T h u s the paranoid imagination operates on precisely that assumption its e n e m i e s — i f they existed—would wish it to operate on: the assumption that simulations belong to the other side, that doubles have no reason to appear or to exist except to prevent us f r o m seeing the original. T h e self-protective suspicions of paranoia are therefore already a defeat. T h e paranoid We must lose out to the enemy They, and this by virtue of the fact that it authorizes or creates the condition of possibility of Theyness by a primary, founding faith in the oneness of the Real. O n the basis of that faith, all appearances risk being seen as treacherous simulations and other people have merely to fill the slot, or take the structural position of a dissimulating T h e y in order to have us, at once, in a position characterized by anxiety-ridden suspicions and permanent subordination. In paranoia, the primary f u n c tion of the enemy is to provide a definition of the real that makes paranoia necessary. We must then begin to suspect the paranoid structure itself as a device by which consciousness maintains the polarity of self and nonself, thus preserving the concept of identity. In paranoia, t w o Real Texts confront one another: subjective being and a world of m o n o lithic otherness. This opposition can be broken d o w n only if we renounce the comforting (if also dangerous) faith in locatable identities.

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Only then, perhaps, can the simulated doubles of paranoid vision destroy the very oppositions they appear to support. So only within the paranoid structure itself—and not in some extraparanoid myth such as love or anarchic randomness—can we begin to resist the persecutions that paranoia both imagines and, more subtly, authorizes. Paranoid doubles dissimulate their source. Can they also be thought of as eliminating origins by disseminating targets? Let us consider the mysterious relation between Slothrop's hardons and the V-2. Slothrop's penile sensitivity to the rocket is an object of both military and scientific interest. His erections seem to be a response to an imminent rocket attack, a response, however, that happens from two to ten days before the stimulus. That this is a stimulus response is strongly suggested to Pointsman the Pavlovian and his colleagues by the amazing identity between the patterns on the map of London that Slothrop uses to mark (and to date) his sexual conquests and those that record rocket strikes on Roger Mexico's map of the city. How is this possible? Slothrop is apparently responding to a stimulus before it is presented. Furthermore, the normal order of the stimuli themselves is reversed with the V-2 rocket, which hits before the sound of its coming in can be heard. Pointsman speculates that Laszlo Jamf originally conditioned tiny Tyrone's hardons to occur in response to a loud noise. Having failed to extinguish Slothrop's hardon reflex at the end of the experiment, Jamf guaranteed the survival of the reflex right up to the present. There would be no problem if Slothrop were reacting to the V-l rocket, whose sound precedes its strike. Then, Pointsman reasons, any doodle close enough to make him j u m p ought to be giving him an erection: the sound o f the motor razzing louder and louder, then the cutoff and silence, suspense building up—then the explosion. B o i n g a hardon. But oh, no. Slothrop instead only gets erections w h e n this sequence happens in reverse. Explosion first, then the sound o f the approach: the V-2. (99)

In other words, Slothrop's hardon is separated from its stimulus by an event that has not yet taken place, which, so to speak, makes his hardon a logical impossibility. Maybe, Pointsman wonders, Slothrop has his predictive erections in what Pavlov called a "transmarginal" or "ultraparadoxical" phase, that is, a phase in which the idea of the opposite has been radically weakened. A dog in the ultraparadoxical phase, for example, responds to a food stimulus when it is not there, just perhaps as Slothrop no longer recognizes the binary opposition between the presence and the absence of his hardon stimuli, thus making possible the apparent reversal of normal cause-and-effect sequence. But, with what may be less than ideal consistency, Pointsman also holds on to a modified version of Pavlovian cause and effect, "the true mechanical explanation"

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that Pavlov believed to be " t h e ideal, the end w e all struggle t o w a r d in science" (102). Slothrop may be responding to ' " a sensory cue w e j u s t aren't paying attention to.' S o m e t h i n g that's been there all along, s o m e thing w e could be looking at but n o one is" (56). E v e r y o n e has a t h e o r y for Slothrop's penile anomalies (Roger thinks it's "a statistical o d d i t y , " Rollo Groast calls it " p r e c o g n i t i o n , " and the Freudian E d w i n Treacle calls it "psychokinesis": he makes the rockets fall w h e r e they do, thus satisfying a subconscious need " t o abolish all trace of the sexual O t h e r " [98]). B u t in a way the m o s t intriguing one remains the o r t h o d o x Pavlovian reading, w h i c h the narrator reformulates in the f o l l o w i n g terms: But the stimulus, somehow, must be the rocket, some precursor wraith, some rocket's double present for Slothrop in the percentage of smiles on a bus, menstrual cycles being operated upon in some mysterious way—what does make the little doxies do it for free? Are there fluctuations in the sexual market, in pornography or prostitutes, perhaps tying into prices on the Stock Exchange itself, that we clean-living lot know nothing about? Does news from the front affect the itch between their pretty thighs, does desire grow directly or inversely as the real chance of sudden death—damn it, what cue, right in front of our eyes, that we haven't the subtlety of heart to see? (99) B y the time w e get to these speculations, we may be prepared to find t h e m rather plausible; w e have been made ready for a state of interpretive raving. T h e crazy story of J a m f ' s e x p e r i m e n t has been told in such a matter-of-fact way that we are inclined to accept it as the realistic u n d e r pinning of Slothrop's current penile behavior. T h e p r o b l e m can then seem to be to figure out w h e r e the stimuli are: rocket preparations across the channel may affect menstrual cycles in a way that increases w o m e n ' s sexual receptivity to Slothrop, j u s t before each rocket strike, or desire may g r o w w h e n death is i m m i n e n t . All this is n o t j u s t a j o k e , b u t it w o u l d be a j o k e on us if we read its seriousness in t e r m s of the cause-andeffect sequences that P o i n t s m a n hesitates to give up. Let us try to define that "seriousness" (without k n o w i n g w h a t this w o r d will n o w mean) in t e r m s that have n o t h i n g at all to d o w i t h cause-and-effect narrativity or w i t h the realistic probabilities that such narrative lines tend to p r o d u c e . We can take o u r cue f r o m the phrase " s o m e rocket's d o u b l e . " W h a t Slothrop responds to is a climate of being, a rocketness that manifests itself in different ways in G e r m a n y and in L o n d o n . A n d Slothrop's response is a f u r t h e r manifestation: his erections are replicative m u t a t i o n s of the rocket. Gravity's Rainbow can be very explicit a b o u t the rocket's phallic significance (Katje, for example, "has u n d e r s t o o d the great airless arc [followed b y the rocket] as a clear allusion to certain secret lusts that drive the planet and herself, and T h o s e w h o use h e r — o v e r its peak and d o w n , plunging, b u r n i n g , t o w a r d a terminal o r g a s m " [260]), b u t I

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d o u b t that the rocket is m e a n t merely to symbolize repressed sexuality. T h e "secret lusts that drive the p l a n e t " cannot be reduced to p s y c h o logical lusts, a l t h o u g h they can certainly recur as psychology. N o single recurrence, however, should be given priority as the f o u n d e r of the series. Rockets are n o t fired because of unsatisfied phallic lusts, and w e m u s t r e m e m b e r that if the rocket is a double of the phallus, it also d o u b l e s — a n d is doubled b y — t h e rainbow. O n the day S l o t h r o p b e comes a crossroad in the Z o n e , he "sees a very thick r a i n b o w here, a stout r a i n b o w cock driven d o w n out of pubic clouds into Earth, green wet valleyed E a r t h " (729). T h e series r o c k e t - c o c k - r a i n b o w may be intelligible mainly in graphic terms: the rocket's rise and fall, the line f r o m the base of the erect cock to the place on the g r o u n d w h e r e its semen m i g h t fall, and the curve of the r a i n b o w all trace a parabola, a figure that can itself be taken to chart a kind of erotic relation of resistance and a b a n d o n m e n t to gravity. T h e rocket's m u r d e r o u s p o w e r is, then, s o m e w h a t deemphasized by the way it replicates itself inaccurately (but the only accurate replications are fantasy-denials of the simulations that c o n stitute the real) as exuberant phallic sexuality and a visual spectacle of radiant calm in nature. T h i s is n o t to say that the novel denies the rocket's destructiveness; in Gravity's Rainbow P y n c h o n subordinates political and historical seriousness to certain deployments of being that can in t u r n affect the way w e think about history and conceive o u r resistance to power. Rocket power is everywhere, and its violence can take m a n y i o r m s , including the appeased violence of the rainbow's stilled parabolic curve. Slothrop, w i t h his hardons and his vision of a " r a i n b o w c o c k " (after w h i c h he "stands crying, not a thing in his head, j u s t feeling n a t u r a l " [729]), is the principal carrier of this cracked ontological m i r r o r . C o n s e quently he is also the principal threat to a projected T h e y n e s s that w o u l d reserve rockets for destruction or allow us to analyze t h e m , w i t h incurable melancholy, as mere substitutes for an equally destructive phallic drive. Slothrop m u s t be pursued, and he will fight back b y disappearing into roles that are themselves simulations of c o m i c - b o o k stereotypes and folklore heroes. H e wanders t h r o u g h the Z o n e as R o c k e t m a n and in the suit of Plechazunga the P i g - H e r o " w h o , s o m e t i m e back in the 10th century, routed a Viking invasion, appearing suddenly o u t of a t h u n d e r b o l t and chasing a score of screaming N o r s e m e n back into the sea" (661). Slothrop loses his "personal density," begins " t o thin, to scatter" (593), thus b e c o m i n g unfindable. But, at the same time, the rocket itself loses s o m e of its a w e s o m e prestige b y virtue of its debilitating repetition in Slothrop as b o t h his comical horniness and his m e t a m o r p h o s i s into the rocket's legend. Such replications don't of course prevent real rockets f r o m being fired in historical time. B u t Gravity's Rainbow, as w e should

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n o w realize, takes place in a different kind of time, a nonhistorical time in which the rockets and the murderous forces behind it are denied the ontological privileges that make them possible. Slothrop as a novelistic personality is sacrificed to this operation, and the extraordinary poignancy of his robust yet menaced presence in Gravity's Rainbow is the premonitory sign that he is condemned to be lost. T h r o u g h Slothrop we m o u r n the loss of personal presence, of a m y t h of personality that may, after all, be the only way in which our civilization has taught us to think about ourselves (to think our selves), a loss that must nonetheless be sustained if we are also to disappear as targets, and therefore as conditions of possibility, of rockets and cartels. 4 *

*

*

In Gravity's Rainbow, the paranoid double—the Real Text behind visible orders—is inaccurately and subversively replicated as serial doubles that ruin the very notion of Real Texts. T h e story of Slothrop narrativizes a more general process of replicative positioning t h r o u g h o u t the novel. If we have such trouble keeping track of what's going on in Gravity's Rainbow, it is perhaps less because of the multiplicity of characters and events than because so much of what happens has almost happened already. When Thanatz is quizzed by Hereros about the Schwarzgerät, is it the realization of Närrisch's fearful anticipation, much earlier in the novel, that he will be interrogated about the S-Gerät by the Russians? Psychological and dramatic particularities are blurred by parallelisms. Pokier loses Ilse. Thanatz loses Gottfried and then Bianca, and Slothrop loses Bianca. T h e thematic depth that such repetitions might create—say, an obsession with the loss of a young girl—is forestalled by their psychologically thinning effect. For the repetition works here not to open up depths, but to cast doubt on the singularity of character. Thanatz comes to realize that "the t w o children, Gottfried and Bianca, are the same" (783). And Slothrop, having lost Bianca, understands that "Ilse, fathered on Greta Erdmann's silver and passive image, Bianca, conceived during the filming of the very scene that was in his thoughts as Pokier p u m p e d in the fatal charge of sperm [into Leni]—how could they not be the same child?" (672). And even before Slothrop begins to thin and scatter, he is already difficult to locate. Who, or what, is Pirate Prentice, with his talent " f o r getting inside the fantasies of others: being able, actually, to take over the burden of managing t h e m " (13)—a talent that will be made n o t h ing of in the novel except as an anticipatory double, an annunciation of Slothrop and his special divining talent? Finally Slothrop learns that R o o sevelt has died w h e n he, Slothrop, "was living on the Riviera, or in Switzerland someplace, only half aware of being extinguished himself." After he gets the news, "the wide necropolis" of Berlin "begins n o w to draw

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inward, to neck d o w n and stretchout into a C o r r i d o r , one k n o w n to Slothrop t h o u g h n o t b y name, a d e f o r m a t i o n of space that lurks inside his life, latent as a hereditary disease." In that space, Roosevelt's doctors m o v e t o w a r d the m a n w h o — i f indeed they were the s a m e — i n his black cape at Yalta "conveyed beautifully the sense of Death's w i n g s " and p r e pared a nation " f o r the passing of Roosevelt, a being T h e y assembled, a being T h e y w o u l d dismantle" (435). B u t w h a t is S l o t h r o p himself if n o t an assembled and then dismantled being, " e x t i n g u i s h e d " at the same instant as the president w h o s e last m o m e n t s he relives in that strange C o r ridor outside historical space and time? Is Slothrop F D R ? N o matter h o w m u c h w e w o r k on Gravity's Rainbow, our m o s t i m portant interpretive discovery will be that it resists analysis. To talk a b o u t Bianca is to talk about Ilse and Gottfried; to describe the Z o n e is to e n u merate all the images of other times and places repeated there. Pynchon's novel is a dazzling a r g u m e n t for shared or collective b e i n g — o r , m o r e precisely, for the originally replicative nature of being. Singularity is i n c o n ceivable; the original of a personality has to be counted a m o n g its s i m u lations. Being in P y n c h o n is therefore n o t a question of substance, b u t rather of distribution and collection. Slothrop is consecrated (and sacrificed) as a collectible of sense the day he becomes a crossroads. " A t last, lying one a f t e r n o o n spread-eagled at his ease in the sun, at the edge of one of the ancient Plague t o w n s he becomes a cross himself, a crossroads, a living intersection w h e r e the j u d g e s have c o m e to set u p a gibbet for a c o m m o n criminal w h o is to be hanged at n o o n " (728). Before the h a n g ing, Slothrop takes the criminal's place, is executed for h i m , o r rather merely before and w i t h h i m , since there is n o r e d e m p t i v e sacrifice in Gravity's Rainbow that m i g h t b e c o m e the U l t i m a t e Sacrifice e x e m p t i n g the rest of us f r o m a similar fate. Slothrop is i m m o l a t e d to his o w n lack of originality, to his thinning or scattered nature, to his being, for e x ample, an anticipatory replay of a c o m m o n criminal's execution. A n d nothing is original here. T h e very scene of the sacrifice is itself a serial element: the cross that his spread-eagled b o d y makes is also the cross made by all the churches he passes on his wanderings, w h i c h in t u r n repeats the shape of the A - 4 rocket ("apses o u t to f o u r sides like rocket fins guiding the streamlined s p i r e s " ) — t o w h i c h w e m u s t also add " o t h e r fourfold expressions" such as "swastikas, g y m n a s t i c symbols FFFF in a circle symetrically upside d o w n and backward, Frisch F r o m m Fröhlich Frei over neat d o o r w a y s in quiet streets, and c r o s s r o a d s , " and finally the mandala shape of H e r e r o villages in Südwest. All these i m ages speak to Slothrop, as do the heterogeneous images f r o m his o w n American past that also cross his m i n d — m a k e h i m by crossing t h r o u g h h i m — n o w that he has been consecrated as a crossroads:

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Crosses, swastikas, Zone-mandalas, how can they not speak to Slothrop? He's sat in Saure Bummer's kitchen, the air streaming with kif moires, reading soup recipes and finding in every bone and cabbage leaf paraphrases of himself. . . news flashes, names of wheelhorses that will pay him off for a certain getaway . . . He used to pick and shovel at the spring roads of Berkshire, April afternoons he's lost, "Chapter 81 work," they called it, following the scraper that clears the winter's crystal attack-from-within, its white necropolizing . . . picking up rusted beer cans, rubbers yellow with preterite seed, Kleenex wadded to brain shapes hiding preterite snot, preterite tears, newspapers, broken glass, pieces of automobile, days when in superstition and fright he could make it all fit, seeing clearly in each an entry in a record, a history: his own, his winter's his country's . . . instructing him, dunce and drifter, in ways deeper than he can explain, have been faces of children out the train windows, two bars of dance music somewhere, in some other street at night, needles and branches of a pine tree shaken clear and luminous against night clouds, one circuit diagram out of hundreds in a smudged yellowing sheaf, laughter out of a cornfield in the early morning as he was walking to school, the idling of a motorcycle at one dusk-heavy hour of the summer . . . and now, in the Zone, later in the day he became a crossroad, after a heavy rain he doesn't recall, Slothrop sees a very thick rainbow here, a stout rainbow cock driven down out of pubic clouds into Earth, green wet valleyed Earth, and his chest fills and he stands crying, not a thing in his head, just feeling natural. (729) S l o t h r o p is, then, a sacrificial condensation of the scattered nature of sense. A n d n o t h i n g is stranger than that feeling of naturalness at the very m o m e n t of his o w n disappearance. N o t only does Slothrop's sacrificial pose m a k e h i m a mere replication of n u m e r o u s other crosses; his m o s t personal history is a collection of scenes f r o m the outside, of i m p r i n t s m a d e by the h u m a n and natural landscape of his N e w E n g l a n d h o m e . Slothrop is so glutted w i t h otherness as to render superfluous the very n o t i o n of otherness. Slothrop is n o one; he is a certain position o n — t o use another favorite P y n c h o n i a n t e r m — t h e "interface" between himself and the w o r l d ( " C o u l d O u t s i d e r and Insider be part of the same field?" P o i n t s m a n w o n d e r s [168]), or between his individual existence and his doubles (between his erections and the V-2, between his crossroad state and " o t h e r f o u r f o l d expressions"). Rather, Slothrop moves in that space between inside and outside, between one simulation and another, w h i c h defeats polarities. Seen f r o m the interface, the loci of oppositions have b e c o m e vaguely delimited, even blurred marginal areas; they can n o longer organize relations. T h u s the very replications that characterize paranoid d o u b l i n g in Gravity's Rainbow attack the binary paranoid structure of We opposed to They. T h e r e is n o escape f r o m that doubling, n o alternatives that w o u l d put to rest once and for all o u r paranoid suspicion

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of invisible repetitions of what we see. But there is a horizontalizing of the replicative process, a displacement of the hidden double from its privileged position as the original reality behind the deceptive appearance to serial positions along phenomenal "lines" that have neither endings nor beginnings. Rather than Real Texts imperfectly designated by ontologically inferior signs, we have a replicative series of underived simulacra. Resistance must therefore be thought of as an inaccurate synonym for conformity. Not only is paranoid terror defeated by replicative processes that both conform to paranoid structures and yet eliminate the They and the We that give rise to terror; the very excessiveness with which images are duplicated may also work to defeat networks of power. Paranoid terror asks: how can we escape incorporating the images by which They would control us? A paranoid resistance, far from confronting apparatuses of control with the impenetrable fortress of a unique selfhood, opens the subject up, makes of the subject a helplessly passive recipient of alien images. And in this apparently docile doubling of the multitudinous forms of information by which a self might be programmed, the subject can perhaps also disappear as a target of the program. The most striking aspect of Slothrop's apotheosis as an intersection of identities is the reappearance of the random as an effect of (and not in opposition to) his having been so massively programmed. Slothrop is now everything but an interiority: a swastika, the fins of a rocket, a Herero village, snot-filled wads of Kleenex, a pine tree luminous against night clouds, the idling of a motorcycle, variations on Franz van der Groov's cosmic windmill. But, to articulate still another inaccurate replication: just as the effects of Jamf's experiments far exceed the purpose of his original work with tiny Tyrone's härdons, Slothrop is reconstituted as a free if unlocatable subject by the incommensurability of his stored images with any controlling designs. If modern technology has made it possible for human beings to be bombarded with more types of information than ever before in the world's history, and if this means that we are mainly constituted not as private selves but as collections of alien images and discourses, it is also true that we are thereby conditioned beyond any uses that such conditioning might be made to serve. In his absolute, indeed mythic, otherness, Slothrop manifests the constitutive (and not merely reflective) nature of his massive absorptions. By the very extravagance of his acquiescence in the plots around him, the paranoid is thus saved—at least intermittently—from his conviction that his interpretive suspicions about the real merely correspond to designs already there. In the paranoid's reenactment of given plots, he constitutes a kind of shallow subjectivity exceeding them.

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This peculiar selfless freedom depends on both the richness and the triteness of plots in the modern world. Pynchon is especially sensitive to the media that create such plots: comic books, the encapsulated romances on billboard posters, and above all movies. M o r e than any other literary work I know, Gravity's Rainbow receives and ironically replicates the alluringly corny plots of popular culture. Unlike the orders of high culture, the comic book and movie plots in Pynchon's work can never seduce us into accepting them as reflections of our Real Nature. T h e very aspect of popular culture that perhaps most offends its detractors—its superficial and frivolous images of h u m a n character—allow for mobile self-identifications perhaps too slippery to be coerced into fixed psychological or moral positions. M o r e exactly, the plots of popular culture are overwhelmingly coercive without constituting anything more definite than a readiness to be seduced by other plots. C o m i c books and movies provide the m o d e of Gravity's Rainbow's seriousness, which is the m o d e of ontological comedy. T h e novel's ungraspability is both a resistance to our attempts to take possession of it and a model of freedom. Gravity's Rainbow moves us f r o m a world of measurably effective action on h u m a n and natural environments—a world we recognize, and which is perhaps made possible, by relatively stable identifications of its actors—to a world of ontological play. It allegorizes a substratum in personal and historical narratives, a substratum where the human and the n o n h u m a n are no longer related as subject and object, but rather in the mysterious and nonnarrative " u n i t y " of inaccurate replications. If it is both natural and inevitable that we should center an idea (and an ideal) of h u m a n rationality within the narratives that organize the real for us, Pynchon's w o r k — w h i l e occasionally paying nostalgic tribute to such ideas and ideals—restructures the relation between human beings, their artifacts, and the natural world in which they live in terms of doubles, parallelisms, and simulacra. T h e forms of being constitute a planetary c o m m u n i t y in which rockets are parallels of erections and rainbows. From this perspective, the privilege of the human extends no further than its perception or consciousness of a relational m o d e that ignores the hierarchical privileges of humanity. T h e contribution of popular culture to this perspective is its preciously reductive view of the human; as Rocketman, Slothrop has the paradoxical freedom of a cardboard being, a being no longer constrained by the targetlike singleness of a rich and unique selfhood. We must, however, not exaggerate these benefits. I have been suggesting that Gravity's Rainbow does not merely refer to such things as the heroes of comic-book adventure, but that its o w n nature cannot help being affected by the cultural forms it incorporates. At the same time,

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Pynchon's novel signals its distance from those forms by its worried complicity with paranoid suspicions about the Real Text. Not only that: literature, far from saving us from the controlling designs served by information systems, is itself an information system that threatens its readers' freedom by the very elusiveness of the demands it makes on them. The unreadability that is the sign of the novel's escape from the excessively readable oppositions of plotters and victims (They and We) necessarily reconstitutes an opposition between Pynchon the plotter and his reader-victims. Literature is never merely an agent of resistance against networks of power-serving knowledge; instead it is one of that network's most seductive manifestations. It can never stand outside the oppressive manipulations of social reality and negate those manipulations by a willed alienation from history. Literature is on a continuum with those forces by which it has habitually proclaimed itself to be menaced. If there is a menace, it is not to literature as a guardian of cultural and ethical values, but rather to literature as a preeminent plotmaker. Social history has probably always been made by forces that, if they took the trouble, could easily demonstrate how little they need literature. Encyclopedism has frequently been literature's defense against its marginal place in information systems, the political, economic, and scientific networks of power and even the symbolic orders by which a society defines itself. Thus the encyclopedic work in the modern period would demonstrate, first of all, that even in a culture saturated with scientific knowledge, art can reassert its claim to be thought of as the privileged medium that processes and "humanizes" this knowledge—integrates it into those symbolic discourses where, from the beginnings of history, human beings have ordered and sought to master their experience. At the same time, in a technological world whose ordering capacities seem to owe even less to art than did prescientific cultures, a world in which the work of art is no longer epistemologically central but merely the occasion for epistemological leisure, art can aspire toward what we might call a redemptively dismissive encyclopedism, an annihilating absorption of its culture's most ambitious projects into the superior "atmosphere" of art. Such redemptive intentions naturally leave history intact (thus even more radically marginalizing art), while art itself becomes the sublime We in paranoid opposition to a dehumanizing They, denying its own perennial if largely unnoticed participation in the exciting uses of knowledge for purposes of mastery. Nothing could be further from Pynchon's fiction, which participates—exuberantly—in an insanely industrious plotting that is also the object of his characters' anxious and probably justified suspicions. The exuberance is perhaps the sign of that participation—as if we could not help being thrilled by our interpretive ingenuities, how-

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ever little they may correspond to what exists outside t h e m and in spite of the violence with which they reinvent the lives of others. Slothrop, w h o is both the central agent of suspicion in Gravity's Rainbow and the major victim of its plots, follows a course similar to that of Oedipus. Like Sophocles' hero, he learns with astonishment of all the connections in his past and that his life has, since infancy, in all likelihood been plotted by those modern agents of malevolent fate, Shell and IG Farben. Also like Oedipus, he assumes the plots he has been in terror of living, although Pynchon never offers us a cathartically maneuvered exemption f r o m his hero's fate as an awesome scapegoat for the crimes of our paranoid imagination. Slothrop assumes his fate by disappearing into a pop version of the (already pop) role created for him; and his annunciatory virtue with regard to the rocket is erased by his very assumption of his Rocketman identity, by a sacrificial similitude in which the causeand-effect logic of military planning is inoperative. N o wonder Shell is furious when Slothrop gives them the slip and gets lost in the Zone. Far f r o m coercing him into self-knowledge (as Oedipus is coerced by his inexorable fate), their designs allow Slothrop to slip into an identity so parodistically clear as to be unreadable. But he is of course on the run f r o m us too, f r o m the interpretive babbling he sets off and never satisfies. But w h y should it be satisfied? In our paranoid criticism we will, after all, be running parallel to Slothrop, thus providing, if we are lucky enough, another model of unreadability, a convincing failure of selfknowledge, a defiant act of Slothropian Oedipalism.

G e o r g e Segal, Abraham's

Farewell to Ishmael

Epilogue Like death, Sarah patiently waits. The mocker has become serious. Apparently she was not always so grim-looking. Although we must assume that she was at least sixty-five years old when Abraham came into Egypt, Sarah was, so her husband tells her, such "a fair woman to look upon" that other men would be willing to kill him in order to get to her. This tribute to Sarah's seductive appeal, we quickly learn, is by no means the blindness of a doting husband: And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.*

We don't know how Sarah felt about these transactions, but we do know that she has a mocking, ironic spirit, and we can guess that she may not have been indifferent to sex. When she hears an angel tell Abraham that his wife will have a son (and we are immediately reminded of the couple's great age and that "it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women"), Sarah "laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?" God, as we might expect, hears this inner mockery and reproves Sarah (who denies having laughed, "for she was afraid"; 18:11-15). Her skepticism expresses itself not as a doubt about whether she will conceive, but rather as a doubt—not entirely relevant to what God is predicting—about whether she will have pleasure. (Is she thinking mainly of Abraham's sexual potency? Perhaps she could still have pleasure if her lord were not so old.) In any case, once God cures her of barrenness and Isaac is born to the hundred-year-old Abraham and his ninety-year-old wife, Sarah gets a

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chance to laugh again. But this time it can be in public, and everyone will laugh with her: And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for 1 have born him a son in his old age. (21:6—7)

This is the laughter of a self-satisfaction at once individual and collective. Not only has Sarah overcome the curse of barrenness (and to have conceived at ninety can only increase her pride); more important, it is as if a curse on Abraham's race had also been lifted, for now he can indeed become, as God promised, the legitimate father of many nations. So the family and the clan rejoice: nature itself has suspended its laws so that Abraham and Sarah's seed may be as numerous as the stars of heaven, and so that the great nation born of this union will have had, at its origin, the authority of legitimacy. There is, however, another mocking presence to be rid of. Sarah, despairing of producing a child herself, had fifteen years earlier sent Abraham to her Egyptian maidservant Hagar, and out of that union Ishmael was born. It is this bastard child (born from what was a sanctioned but second-class union with a concubine wife)—now an adolescent—whom, at the feast made by Abraham on the day Isaac is weaned, Sarah sees "mocking" (21:9). The notation is tantalizing, and the Hebrew verb has been the subject of much speculation and dispute. It has been translated recently as "playing," but more accurately it appears to denote laughter or mockery. Partly because of the resemblance between the Hebrew verb and Isaac's name, it was even assumed in late antiquity that Ishmael was fooling around sexually with his infant half-brother. This suggestion is hard to resist, but I am more intrigued by Ishmael's unexplained mocking laughter. Is he defensively mocking the ancient Sarah, who at ninety can hardly be as appealing as his own mother, Hagar, but who has nonetheless stopped him from being Abraham's heir? Is he expressing skepticism about who Isaac's parents really are—in particular, whether the centenarian Abraham is really the infant's father? O r is this now discarded son—who, God predicted earlier, would grow to be "a wild man" (16:12)—simply incapable of taking such feasts, such ceremonies of collective self-congratulation, seriously? Ishmael may, in short, be "Isaac-ing" it in three possible senses of the word: in his sexual dalliance with his half-brother, in "giving himself airs of being the true heir" (the activity of laughing is the root of Isaac's name), and finally in mocking the true heir. 2 If nothing in the text unambiguously justifies any of these interpretations, we can at least note a curious resemblance to Sarah's first laughter.

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T h a t laughter, like Ishmael's, was unauthorized; indeed, they m i g h t b o t h be t h o u g h t of as secret m o c k i n g c o m m e n t s on the predictions and ceremonies of legitimacy. Sarah had i n w a r d l y laughed at n o t h i n g less than God's p r o m i s e to m a k e nations and kings c o m e f r o m her u n i o n w i t h A b r a h a m ; the " w i l d " Ishmael is perhaps laughing at that pride of lineage, the satisfaction at having p r o d u c e d an heir f r o m the first-class u n i o n w i t h Sarah, w h i c h has m a d e A b r a h a m gather all his people together to celebrate the weaning of Isaac. In Ishmael's case, w e have laughter at l a u g h ter; a dismissive, reflective irony m o c k s w h a t is really the deadly serious laughter of Sarah and of the c o m m u n i t y , a laughter that says: n o w o u r f u t u r e is assured, o u r power is assured, because the f u t u r e of m a n y kings and nations has been given its m o s t lawful paternity. T h e lack of any lighthearted irresponsibility in this laughter is clearly e n o u g h indicated by Sarah's reaction w h e n she catches Ishmael m o c k i n g . She doesn't really stop laughing. Instead her brutal reaction interprets her laughter for us: And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. (21:9-10) All Sarah can see in Ishmael's laughter is a reflection of the seriousness of her o w n (second) laughter: the n o w superfluous child of the servant m o c k s because he is jealous of the p o w e r being passed to Isaac, because he is furious at losing his inheritance. Such laughter is n o laugh; there is too m u c h at stake. T h e c o m m u n i t y ' s rejoicing at its o w n high legitimacy m u s t n o t be threatened. A n d , interestingly e n o u g h , that legitimacy is m o s t passionately defended not by the patriarch himself b u t by the lawful m o t h e r , the once barren w o m a n w h o had the courage to laugh a little at G o d himself and w h o — n o w that she has a son w h o s e rights to his i n heritance m u s t be protected—is fiercer than G o d himself. For p o o r A b r a h a m has g r o w n attached to his bastard son, and G o d consoles h i m : And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight becausc of his son. And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed. (21:11-13) It is the scene of expulsion that G e o r g e Segal's e x t r a o r d i n a r y sculpture depicts, a scene narrated in a single verse of Genesis: " A n d A b r a h a m rose up early in the m o r n i n g , and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it u n t o Hagar, p u t t i n g it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and w a n d e r e d in the wilderness of B e e r - s h e b a "

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(21:14). Segal's work at once centers and excludes the two w o m e n . O n the one hand, as his title indicates, they are somewhat irrelevant to his subject: Abraham's farewell to Ishmael. Sarah is hidden f r o m the others' view behind a massive stone wall; Hagar, with her back to the others (and ignored by Abraham, w h o seems not even to see her as he embraces his son), has already started on her way, holding herself as if she were already lost in the wilderness. O n the other hand, in the perspective f r o m which our photograph is taken, Abraham and Ishmael are partly hidden by Hagar; it is almost as if they were secondary to the sharply contrasted figures of the t w o w o m e n . But like all sculpture, Segal's w o r k shares our space, the space outside the work of art, and in walking around Segal's group we can of course alter the relations between the figures. We can move toward the upper left area represented in the photograph, where we would have directly in front of us Ishmael's head resting on his father's shoulder; f r o m this position, Sarah is invisible and we see only H a g a r s back. There is, in other words, no necessary foreground or background. Certain angles of vision emphasize the two presences ignored by the work's title, and we can move behind that slab of stone and not even see Abraham and Ishmael; but we can also eliminate Sarah f r o m our field of vision. O u r attention can and should be mobile, and in moving around and within this group, we try out various subjects: the grief of father and son, H a g a r s abandonment and isolation, Sarah's surveillance of the scene (but what does she see or where is she looking?—with Segal's eyeless figures, we can never be sure, and it is possible that only Hagar is visible to her). Paradoxically, however, Sarah is the center of Segal's work. T h e O l d Testament says nothing about Sarah's being present at this scene of departure, and indeed it might seem more appropriate to have God, or one of his angels, watching over things f r o m behind the wall, standing guard to make sure that his orders are carried out. But God, in a sense, is merely carrying out Sarah's orders, and in placing her within his work, Segal at once pays tribute to her commanding role in the story and at the same time almost manages to escape f r o m her. She has arranged everything, but is n o w only part of a group. Segal's sculpture allows us to reread the biblical story f r o m various perspectives, even including a perspective f r o m which Sarah is absent. For Sarah, the incident has a r u t h lessly unequivocal sense; the threat to legitimate inheritance must be eliminated. She is the servant—and a beneficiary—of God's promise to Abraham; everything else fades into insignificance w h e n compared to the divinely appointed mission of fathering (and mothering) nations and kings. But what if Abraham's grief at losing Ishmael is just as important? Segal's work unsentimentally asks this question. It doesn't really make of father and son the new center of the story; it merely—and m o r e radi-

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cally—eliminates the possibility of centering anything, of unequivocal sense itself. Sarah knows what counts, but Segal's work places her in a scene where what supremely counts may get nothing m o r e than a m o ment of our mobile attention, may depend on something as aleatory as where we happen to be standing as we ourselves move within this scene. And yet the work also pays h o m a g e — d i s t u r b i n g l y — t o what is after all the unmistakable sense of the biblical story, the need to guarantee Abraham's promised lineage. Sarah the fierce guardian of that promise, Sarah w h o is almost absent f r o m the scene, w h o might appear to be its negligible background, Sarah nonetheless, by something like the very weight of her remoteness, dominates everything. T h e bare-armed, fulllipped, deceptively centered Hagar is an immensely appealing rebuke to the withered, heavily clothed Sarah with her deathlike h o o d and narrow slit of a mouth, and yet H a g a r s more h u m a n appeal is d o o m e d to insignificance by the wholly unengaging absent presence of a divinely sanctioned fatality. Everything else but Sarah is mere anecdote, anecdotes of past sexual desires, of family feelings, of anxious isolation. Sarah, like God, knows that all that will become mere footnotes in the authorized narrative of history. T h e unthreatened transmission of power f r o m generation to generation depends on keeping such footnotes in their place, on God's (and Sarah's) allowing that embrace to take place because it doesn't count, because Abraham's grief will pass, because A b r a h a m h i m self will pass, because he is condemned to be nothing but the origin of a glorious collective destiny. O n l y death can have that kind of patience and indifference, and once death (almost imperceptibly) enters the scene, we really see nothing but its ignored presence, and we can n o longer read anything but the grand historical narrative that only our dying makes possible. Ishmael's expulsion in chapter 21 of Genesis is a major resolution to a crisis of legitimacy that begins almost at the very m o m e n t when, in chapter 12, the Lord blesses A b r a h a m and promises to make his name great. Isaac's birth and the departure of Hagar and Ishmael are an at least m o mentary triumph over the threat to legitimacy and order, a threat represented, between chapters 12 and 21, by astonishing accounts of sexual misconduct. First of all, the glorious narrative is in danger of never getting started because of Sarah's barrenness; h o w can A b r a h a m be the father of many nations if he can't even be a father? We might, however, choose to think of that barrenness as a compositional convenience that, by delaying Isaac's birth, allows for the deployment of other threats to legitimate succession, threats derived f r o m the perversity of h u m a n desire. Abraham himself initiates the series. To save himself, he passes the desirable Sarah off as his sister, and he does this twice, first w h e n they go into Egypt and later in Gerar. T h e Pharaoh and Abimelech, the king

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of Gerar, are happy enough to have the irresistible Sarah, although they are held at bay by God's wrath. Abimelech "had not come near" Sarah (20:4); the Pharaoh does not "take her to him to wife," although he certainly had time to enjoy her without ceremony while plagues were falling upon Egypt "because of Sarai Abram's wife" (12:17-19). We even learn that Abraham had asked Sarah to show him the "kindness" of saying she is his sister at "every place whither we shall come" (20:13); how many unrecorded times did poor Sarah get handed over to the local potentate? But it turns out that the lie is only half a lie. Abraham explains to the justifiably irritated Abimelech that Sarah is really his sister: "She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother" (20:12). Thus the sacred bond that the Pharaoh and Abimelech almost violate (at great cost: Egypt is visited with plagues, the king of Gerar is threatened with death) is an incestuous union, and it is not the only one in this section of Genesis. Only Lot and his daughters survive the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; the daughters, anxious to "preserve seed of our father," get him drunk two nights in a row and "lay with him" (the eldest on the first night, her younger sister the second night). From these incestuous revels are born the Moabites and the children of Ammon. Although he obviously manages to perform sexually, Lot, we are told, didn't even perceive when his daughters "lay down, nor when [they] arose" (19:32—35). Was it necessary to make him drink that much? He has after all not exactly been a model of sexual respectability. Earlier in Sodom, to protect the two angels sent to destroy the city from the men of Sodom, "both old and young, all the people from every quarter," who have flocked to his house and demand that he deliver his visitors over to them ("bring them out to us, that we may know them"), Lot tries unsuccessfully—in a gesture of ambiguously heroic hospitality—to offer the Sodomites his daughters instead: "Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my r o o f " (19:8). Incest, adultery, possible homosexuality, 3 the prostitution of a spouse: the accumulation of sexual deviance in these few pages is impressive, although readers of the Old Testament know that the lurid tale is frequently the narrative and moral rule rather than the exception. The interest of such tales in this section of Genesis is, I suggest, as allegories of resistance to the divine intention of sexuality in the service of lawful succession. They delay the establishment of Abraham's proper line. Indeed, they break the narrative line just as they endanger Abraham's lawful paternity. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah interrupts the main plot that begins with God's promise to Abraham in chapter 12 and is resolved with

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Isaac's birth and Ishmael's e x p u l s i o n in chapter 21. T h e r e is a c o n t i n u o u s s w e r v i n g away f r o m that inescapable yet also m e n a c e d line: Sarah m o v e s away t o w a r d t h e P h a r a o h and A b i m e l e c h , A b r a h a m c o n s o r t s w i t h H a g a r , t h e S o d o m i t e m e n reject w o m e n , the h u s b a n d s o f Lot's d a u g h t e r s r e f u s e to leave the city and t h e d a u g h t e r s m u s t bear their father's children, a n d Sarah's v e r y barrenness f u n c t i o n s as a k i n d o f biological stalling o f G o d ' s plan. It is n o t s i m p l y a question o f the conflict b e t w e e n legitimacy and illegitimacy. T h e illegitimate, t h e u n a u t h o r i z e d , d o n o t m e r e l y d i s r u p t t h e straight line; they establish a n o t h e r line, a possible (unfaithfiil) double. T h i s s h o r t section has several curious doublets. T h e " s h e is m y sister" strategy occurs twicc, w i t h the P h a r a o h and w i t h A b i m e l e c h . Sarah's skeptical laugh (19:12) is a repetition of A b r a h a m ' s laugh in a p r e c e d i n g c h a p t e r w h e n , u p o n h e a r i n g f r o m G o d that his aged w i f e will be a m o t h e r o f nations, " A b r a h a m fell u p o n his face, a n d l a u g h e d , a n d said in his heart, Shall a child be b o r n u n t o h i m that is an h u n d r e d years old? and shall Sarah that is n i n e t y years old, bear?" (17:17). H a g a r is sent off to t h e wilderness twice, once (in chapter 16) w h e n Sarah ragefully sees that, h a v i n g conceived, t h e servant n o w despises her b a r r e n mistress, a n d l a t e r — t h i s t i m e n o t to r e t u r n — w h e n Sarah sends her away w i t h the m o c k i n g Ishmael. T h e r e is, finally, the recurrence of incest a n d p e r h a p s o f h o m o s e x u a l i t y : L o t and his d a u g h t e r s , A b r a h a m a n d his half-sister, the S o d o m i t e s , Ishmael's possible " I s a a c - i n g . " All this m i g h t be taken as a structural invitation t o t h i n k in t e r m s o f repetitions w i t h m o r e or less significant differences. A n d a k i n d of d i f f e r ential repetition is o f course w h a t t h e principal plot o f this section is all a b o u t . G o d ' s p r o m i s e to A b r a h a m is held in suspense f o r nine chapters even as it is fulfilled d u r i n g that same t i m e — b u t fulfilled in a s e c o n d class way, b y a b i r t h that at once establishes A b r a h a m ' s p r o g e n y a n d itself b e l o n g s to the series o f incidents that stage a resistance to historical lineage f o u n d e d o n t h e m o s t h i g h l y a u t h o r i z e d sexuality. Ishmael's b i r t h is n o t an a h i s t o r i c a l — t h e r e f o r e Utopian a n d p e r h a p s ultimately d i s m i s s i b l e — p r o t e s t against h i s t o r y itself as it has been a p p r o p r i a t e d b y G o d f o r A b r a h a m and Sarah's r i g h t f u l heirs. Rather, Ishmael is t h e possibility of history as unauthorized continuity. It is true that he is also c o o p t e d b y G o d ' s narrative. G o d consoles H a g a r b y p r o m i s i n g her that she t o o will be a m o t h e r o f nations, that G o d will m a k e Ishmael "a great n a t i o n " (21:18), that he will " m u l t i p l y [her] seed exceedingly, that it shall n o t be n u m b e r e d for m u l t i t u d e " (16:10). In short, H a g a r will be a m i n o r Sarah, w i t h her o w n divinely i n s u r e d inheritance. B u t H a g a r s line will p r o d u c e a p e o p l e o f n o m a d s , ideologically (and anachronistically) j u d g e d b y t h e a u t h o r s o f Genesis w h e n they characterize that line's patriarch, Ishmael, as "a w i l d m a n , " o n e w h o s e " h a n d will be against every m a n ,

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and every man's hand against h i m " (16:12). And the last we hear of Ishmacl is that he "dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer" (21:20). T h e Ishmael story resists being coopted, is never deprived of its potential for resistance. For what is a wild man and who, exactly, is the mysteriously mocking Ishmael, the one w h o laughs at ceremonies and authorized identities? Most profoundly, Isaac's birth deprives Ishmael of an identity, or it sets him afloat among different identities, none of which wholly belongs to him. H e will have a line, but not the line for which he was conceived; his promised inheritance is a function of his loss of inheritance; he will continue to represent Abraham in history only because he has been expelled f r o m Abraham's home. Indeed, the instances of sexual deviance to which Ishmael belongs in this section of Genesis are also instances of deviant identities. T h e maidservant is s u m m o n e d to play the role of wife; the wife presents herself as a sister; the father becomes husband to his daughters. In a text so obsessively concerned with legitimation t h r o u g h naming (the famous naming of generations in Genesis takes place in chapters 10 and 11), the proper, the right, name is also violated (or hidden, confused, stolen), and this is a crucial element in the text's persistent subversion of authority. Ishmael is essentially homeless and nameless (and, perhaps on the basis of such intimations, Melville used h i m as a parable of "incomparable America"). Genesis (like Moby-Dick and several of the other texts considered in this study) leaves magnificently open the question of a place for deviance within history, of the fate, in time, of unauthorized desires and identities.

Notes Index

Notes 1. Death and Literary

Authority

1. Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past, trans. C . K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin; and Andreas Mayor, 3 vols, (copyright © 1981 by R a n d o m House, Inc., N e w York, and C h a t t o and Windus, London; quotations by permission of the publishers), 2 : 7 8 3 - 7 8 4 . T h e original French is f r o m Proust, A la Recherche du temps perdu, ed. Pierre Clarac and Andre Ferre, 3 vols. (Paris: Gallimard, 1954), 2 : 7 5 6 - 7 5 7 . All further references to this w o r k (the translation and the original in that order) are included in text. 2. Moncrieff and Kilmartin translate this phrase as "an annihilation that had effaced m y image o f t h a t tenderness." M y o w n translation—somewhat less probable grammatically—is, as it were, solicited by m y interpretation of the entire passage and m o r e specifically by the narrator's remark, quoted next in m y text, that he " w a s and would be n o t h i n g " b o t h "before and after" the death o f t h a t " m e r e stranger" his g r a n d m o t h e r had n o w become (2:785; 2:115). 3. Gilles Deleuze, Proust and Signs, trans. Richard H o w a r d ( N e w York: Braziller, 1972), pp. 41, 43. 4. Melanie Klein, "Early Analysis," "Love, Guilt, and Reparation" and Other Works, 1921-1945 (New York: Dell, 1975), p. 77. All further references to this essay, abbreviated EA, are included in text. 5. In the sharp distinction that Klein makes in this essay between neurotic fixations and sublimations, the crucial point appears to be what happens to suspended libido. "In hysterical fixation . . . phantasy holds so tenaciously to the pleasure situation that, before sublimation is possible, it succumbs to repression and fixation." O n e page later Klein writes: "In m y opinion we find that a fixation which leads to a s y m p t o m was already on the way to sublimation but was cut off f r o m it by repression." And, in her brief account of Freud's essay on Leonardo da Vinci, Klein concludes: "In Leonardo the pleasurable situation [gratification through fellatio] did not become fixated as such: he transferred it to ego-tendencies." It is true, however, that Klein sometimes speaks of this process as a transfer of an already defined, even already fixated, pleasurable situation; she will also write that the step f r o m

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16-29

i d e n t i f i c a t i o n s t o s y m b o l f o r m a t i o n — a d e v e l o p m e n t a l s t e p o b v i o u s l y crucial f o r cultural s u b l i m a t i o n — t a k e s place w h e n " r e p r e s s i o n b e g i n s t o o p e r a t e " ( E A , 8 6 - 8 9 ) . T h e a m b i g u i t i e s h e r e m a y h a v e t o d o w i t h Klein's failure (or u n w i l l i n g n e s s ) t o r e c o g n i z e h o w radical h e r p o s i t i o n in " E a r l y A n a l y s i s " is. T h i s s u g g e s t i o n s e e m s all t h e m o r e p r o b a b l e in t h e light o f h e r later, a n d more "official," views of sublimation. 6. Klein, " O n t h e T h e o r y o f A n x i e t y a n d G u i l t , " "Envy Other Works, 1946-1963 ( N e w York: Dell, 1975), p. 41.

and Gratitude"

7. Klein, " T h e E a r l y D e v e l o p m e n t o f C o n s c i e n c e in t h e C h i l d , " "Love, and Reparation," p. 254.

and Guilt,

8. Klein, " T h e I m p o r t a n c e o f S y m b o l - F o r m a t i o n in t h e D e v e l o p m e n t o f t h e E g o , " ibid., pp. 2 2 0 - 2 2 4 . 9. Klein, " A C o n t r i b u t i o n t o t h e P s y c h o - G e n e s i s o f M a n i c - D e p r e s s i v e S t a t e s , " ibid., p. 270. 10. Klein, " S o m e T h e o r e t i c a l C o n c l u s i o n s R e g a r d i n g t h e E m o t i o n a l Life o f t h e I n f a n t (1952)," " E n v y and Gratitude," p. 64. 11. Klein, " E n v y a n d G r a t i t u d e , " ibid., p. 193. 12. For t w o q u i t e d i f f e r e n t v i e w s o f t h e relation b e t w e e n s u b l i m a t i o n a n d i d e a l ization, see G u y R o s o l o t o , Essais sur le symbolique, (Paris: G a l l i m a r d , 1964), p p . 1 7 0 - 8 0 , a n d D o n a l d M e i t z e r , Sexual States of Mind (Perthshire: C l u n i e Press, 1973), p p . 1 2 2 - 3 1 . 13. See Jean Laplanche, Problematiques III: La Sublimation (Paris: Presses U n i v e r s i t ä r e s d e France, 1980). 14. In C h a p t e r 2 I d e v e l o p these ideas in t h e c o n t e x t o f t h e a m b i g u o u s p o s i t i o n i n g o f n a r c i s s i s m in F r e u d i a n t h o u g h t . 15. In an i m p o r t a n t essay (originally p u b l i s h e d in G e r m a n in 1937) o n t h e s e g r e g a t i o n o f c u l t u r e w i t h i n b o u r g e o i s society, H e r b e r t M a r c u s e d e f i n e s t h e role o f c u l t u r e in a civilization a n x i o u s t o divert h u m a n b e i n g s f r o m their real material situation, a n d t o s u g g e s t that t h e p r i v a t e r e a l m o f t h e soul, w h e r e h i g h c u l t u r e is e n j o y e d , s o m e h o w m a k e s u p for d e b a s e d a n d u n j u s t social c o n d i t i o n s : " C u l t u r e s h o u l d [ a c c o r d i n g t o t h e m o d e r n b o u r g e o i s v i e w o f it) e n n o b l e t h e given b y p e r m e a t i n g it, r a t h e r t h a n p u t t i n g s o m e t h i n g n e w in its place. It t h u s exalts t h e i n d i v i d u a l w i t h o u t f r e e i n g h i m f r o m his factual d e b a s e m e n t . C u l t u r e speaks o f t h e d i g n i t y o f ' m a n ' w i t h o u t c o n c e r n i n g itself w i t h a c o n c r e t e l y m o r e d i g n i f i e d status f o r m e n . T h e b e a u t y o f c u l t u r e is a b o v e all an i n n e r b e a u t y a n d can o n l y reach t h e external w o r l d f r o m w i t h i n . Its r e a l m is essentially a r e a l m o f t h e soul." T h i s cultural ideal, M a r c u s e a r gues, has best b e e n e x e m p l i f i e d b y art, a n d f o r g o o d r e a s o n , since " o n l y in art has b o u r g e o i s society t o l e r a t e d its o w n ideals a n d t a k e n t h e m seriously [even w h i l e s e g r e g a t i n g t h e m ] as a general d e m a n d . " M a r c u s e , " T h e A f f i r m a t i v e C h a r a c t e r o f C u l t u r e , " in Negations: Essays in Critical Theory ( B o s t o n : B e a c o n Press, 1968), p p . 103, 114.

2 . Erotic 1.

Assumptions

The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, ed. J a m e s Strachey, 24 vols. ( L o n d o n : H o g a r t h Press, 1 9 5 3 - 1 9 7 4 ) , 9 : 1 7 5 . Vol-

Notes to Pages 32-34

213

u m e and page references for all further citations f r o m Freud in the Standard Edition are given in text. 2. Jean Laplanche emphasizes the notion that the sublimation of sexual impulses takes place before repression in his analysis of Freud's study of Leonardo da Vinci. See Laplanche, Problematiques III, especially pp. 109-115. In a 1964 seminar Jacques Lacan, in a discussion of Freud's "Instincts and Their Vicissitudes," also defines sublimation as the satisfaction of a sexual drive, " w i t h out repression"; Le Seminaire, livre VI: Les Quatre Concepts fondamentaux de la psychanalyse (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1973), p. 151. For an interesting discussion of the possibly complementary relation between sublimation and sexuality, see Kurt Eissler, Leonardo da Vinci: Psychoanalytic Notes on the Enigma (New York: International Universities Press, 1961). I discuss this question at greater length in The Freudian Body: Psychoanalysis and Art ( N e w York: Columbia University Press, 1986), chap. 2. 3. T h a t effort and argument have frequently been made, often with interesting results, in the context of speculations on the relation between art and the primary process. I am thinking, for example, of Ernst Kris's notion of c o n trolled or regulated regression, in which the ego, instead of being overwhelmed by the primary process, creatively uses it; see his Psychoanalytic Explorations in Art (New York: Schocken, 1952). A n t o n Ehrenzweig goes further than Kris in arguing for " t h e eminently constructive role of the primary process in art." For Ehrenzweig, " w h a t is missing in Kris's concept . . . is the insight that creativity does not merely control the regression toward the primary process, but also the w o r k of the primary process itself"; The Hidden Order of Art: A Study in the Psychology of Artistic Imagination (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), pp. 31, 2 6 1 - 2 6 2 . Finally, Jean-Frangois Lyotard has made an extremely stimulating a r g u m e n t for w h a t he calls the double renversement (the double reversal) of unconscious processes in art. To the extent that art merely repeats the contents of unconscious desires, it can be read symptomatically. M o r e interesting for Lyotard (and for us) is the nonrealization of desire in art. By repeating the m o v e m e n t s of desire rather than its hallucinatory contents, the w o r k of art prevents desire f r o m settling into any constituted, definitive meanings; it is as if unconscious desire were emptied of its specific representations by becoming the object of its o w n characteristic m o d e of operation. See Jean-Franqois Lyotard, Discours, figure (Paris: Editions Klincksieck, 1971), and " O e d i p e j u i f , " Derive ä partir de Marx et Freud (Paris: U n i o n generale d'editions, 1973). Within the psychoanalytic community, there has of course been considerable discussion of art. An issue of American Imago f r o m several years ago, devoted to "Genius, Psychopathology and Creativity" ( S p r i n g - S u m m e r 1967), gives a fairly good idea of the problems that have generally seemed important to psychoanalysts in their attempts to give a Freudian account of aesthetics. This issue was inspired by Kurt Eissler's w o r k on Leonardo and Goethe, and it pointed to some lively debate on such questions as: Is narcissism the maturational force behind the reparative energy that goes into artistic creation? D o the motives for creativity derive their strength f r o m aggressive and libidinal derivatives or, predominantly, f r o m " d e -

214

Notes to Pages

34-38

aggressivization" and "delibidinization?" What is the role o f ego synthesis in the creation o f a new gestalt? Are the regressions o f creative personalities in the service o f the ego, or do they aim at ego restoration, even ego survival? Should we think o f sublimation as synonymous with creativity? Is artistic activity "autonomous"—that is, detached from the original sphere o f conflict—or does the entire process o f creativity proceed side by side with the underlying conflict, a conflict by which it is constantly nurtured? Some o f these questions certainly merit attention, but the attention that psychoanalysts (especially in America) have given to them almost always seems intellectually naive. This may be the result o f what often seems to be these psychoanalysts' royal indifference to nearly everything that has happened in esthetic theory and literary criticism since Kant. At a much higher level o f professional psychoanalytic interest in art, there is o f course the work o f Jacques Lacan. Malcolm Bowie has recently made a good case for Lacan's ambivalent, troubled efforts to appropriate literature for psychonalytic truth; Bowie speaks o f "the rhythm o f admiration, envy and aggresion, that marks [Lacan's] handling o f literary materials." See his Freud, Proust and Lacan: Theory as Fiction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), p. 158. In the context o f my attempts to outline a theoretical approach to art inspired by speculations on the Freudian hypothesis o f primary narcissism (see especially the discussion o f Baudelaire and Nietzsche in Chapter 3), Heinz Kohut, given his work on narcissism and his interst in art, seemed like a promising reference. Unfortunately he gives us little more than the usual psychoanalytic cliches. In an essay entitled "Observations on the Psychological Function o f M u s i c , " he speaks o f "the psychoeconomic efficacy o f musical activity for the relief o f pregenital libidinal and aggressive tensions," and he suggests that art can be a useful substitute to schizophrenics who don't have a therapist, since, as we all know, art allows "a controlled and limited regression." See The Search for the Self: Selected Writings of Heinz Kohut, 1950-1978, vol. 1, ed. Paul H. Ornstein (New York: International Universities Press, 1978), pp. 2 4 9 - 2 5 1 . 4. Laplanche seems to be suggesting something consistent with the idea I develop here when he writes, in summing up Freud's thesis in the 1914 essay on narcissism: the "libidinal cathexis o f the ego is inseparable from the very constitution o f the human ego." Jean Laplanche, Vie et mort en psychanalyse (Paris: Flammarion, 1970), p. 116; Life and Death in Psychoanalysis, trans. Jeffrey Mehlman (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976), p. 67. 5. As if: I qualify here in order to indicate that such terms as "fascinated" and "self-reflection" have to be phenomenologically inaccurate to describe that consciousness, although our—and Freud's—metapsychological speculations assume a certain form o f persistence in consciousness o f its own primitive states. Such states are inferred from their inaccurate replication in far more developed mental structures. In the essay on narcissism, the "evidence," quite properly, comes after the speculative assertion instead o f leading up to it, and this very sequence highlights the paradox that the evidence is massive for that which, strictly speaking, there can be no evidence.

Notes to Pages 38-53

215

6. Kohut presents a wholly different view of the relation between sexuality and the self. For h i m — a n d this has led to m u c h resistance on the part o f driveoriented Freudians—the " b e d r o c k " of early development is not castration anxiety but rather the threat to the nuclear self. T h e sexual is inherently secondary to self-formation and self-confirmation. What Freud called instinctual vicissitudes are, for Kohut, esentially responses to h o w the self was treated, whether or not it was confirmed by " t h e mirroring self-object." Nonpathological sexuality is a " f i r m i n g u p " of the sense of the bodily self. This is of course wholly at odds with the idea, argued for in this chapter, of sexuality as constitutive of ego formation. See Heinz Kohut, The Restoration of the Self (New York: International Universities Press, 1977). Perhaps closer to that idea is Kernberg's thesis of primary narcissism and primary object investment as coincidental. H e postulates a primary undifferentiated self-object representation out of which narcissism and object investment develop simultaneously. This is, he points out, different f r o m both Kohut's theories and classical thought. See O t t o F. Kernberg, Borderline Conditions and Pathological Narcissism ( N e w York: Aronson, 1975), especially chap. 10. A n interesting "classical" objection to Kernberg's w o r k can be found in Milton Klein and David Tribich, "Kernberg's Object-Relations T h e o r y : A Critical Evaluation," International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 62, part 1 (1981). For some valuable theoretical essays on narcissism, see the issue entitled "Narcisses" of Nouvelle Revue de psychanalyse, 13 (Spring 1973). 3. Boundaries

of Time and

Being

1. " T h e Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical R e p r o d u c t i o n , " in Walter B e n j a m i n , Illuminations, ed. H a n n a h Arendt, trans. H a r r y Z o h n ( N e w York: Schocken, 1968), pp. 231, 221, 234. Further page references to this collection of Benjamin's writings are given in text. Which is the real Benjamin? G e r s h o m Scholem deplored the dialectical materialism of the later writings as a betrayal of the metaphysical-theological determinations of the earlier writings. Others—including A d o r n o and Brecht, w h o had very different ideas of what this should mean—encouraged Benjamin's interest in M a r x i s m and dialectial materialism. Should we think in terms of periods, or of a permanent opposition in his thought, or of parallel and persistent intellectual tracks? 2. Benjamin did not of course invent the difference between Erlebnis and Erfahrung. I am principally interested in his characteristic historicizing of the distinction. It should also be pointed out that, especially in the 1930s, Erlebnis was a highly valorized term in Nazi ideology. 3. Richard Wolin, Walter Benjamin: An Aesthetic of Redemption ( N e w York: C o lumbia University Press, 1982), p. 31. 4. This attention was to lead to the "Pariser Passagen," or the Arcades Project. In this massive, unfinished work, Benjamin wished to d o for the m o d e r n age what his Trauerspiel study had done for an earlier period: illustrate the p r o -

2i6

Notes

to Pages

53-57

f o u n d m e a n i n g o f t h e m o d e r n t h r o u g h an allegorical r e a d i n g o f details o f city life, especially o f Paris, " t h e capital o f t h e n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y . " 5. Walter B e n j a m i n , The Origin of German Tragic Drama, ( L o n d o n : N e w L e f t B o o k s , 1977), p. 29.

trans. J o h n O s b o r n e

6. T h e o d o r A d o r n o , Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life, t r a n s . E . F . N . J e p h c o t t ( L o n d o n : N e w L e f t B o o k s , 1974), p. 247. In t h r e e letters o f 1935, 1936, a n d 1938, A d o r n o r e s p o n d e d in detail to s o m e o f B e n j a m i n ' s principal w r i t i n g s : " P a r i s , C a p i t a l o f t h e N i n e t e e n t h C e n t u r y " (the A r c a d e s Project), " T h e W o r k o f A r t in t h e E r a o f M e c h a n i c a l R e p r o d u c t i o n , " a n d " T h e Paris o f t h e S e c o n d E m p i r e in B a u d e l a i r e . " T h e letters s h o w A d o r n o s i m p a t i e n c e w i t h w h a t h e c o n s i d e r e d to b e t h e antidialectical influence o f B r e c h t o n B e n j a m i n ' s t h o u g h t . See A d o r n o , Aesthetics and Politics, trans. R. T a y l o r ( L o n d o n : N e w Left B o o k s , 1977), p p . 1 1 0 - 1 3 3 . In an i n t e r e s t i n g essay, J ü r g e n H a b e r m a s has a r g u e d that " A d o r n o n e v e r n o t i c e a b l y h e s i t a t e d t o a t t r i b u t e t o B e n j a m i n t h e precise i n t e n t i o n o f i d e o l o g y c r i t i q u e t h a t h e f o l l o w e d in his o w n w o r k , a n d in this h e w a s w r o n g . " H a b e r m a s r e c o g n i z e s in A d o r n o " t h e b e t t e r M a r x i s t , " b u t p e r h a p s because o f this t h e latter " d i d n o t see t h a t his f r i e n d w a s n e v e r p r e p a r e d t o give u p t h e t h e o l o g i c a l h e r i t a g e , in as m u c h as h e always k e p t his m i m e t i c t h e o r y o f l a n g u a g e , his m e s s i a n i c t h e o r y o f history, and his c o n s e r v a t i v e - r e v o l u t i o n a r y u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f criticism i m m u n e against o b j e c t i o n s f r o m historical m a t e r i a l i s m . " B e n j a m i n c a n n o t b e l o o k e d t o f o r " a t h e o l o g y o f r e v o l u t i o n " : " T h e liberation f r o m cultural t r a d i t i o n s o f s e m a n t i c p o t e n t i a l s t h a t m u s t n o t b e lost t o t h e m e s s i anic c o n d i t i o n is n o t t h e s a m e as t h e liberation o f political d o m i n a t i o n f r o m structural violence." "Walter Benjamin: Consciousncss-Raising or Rescuing C r i t i q u e , " in On Walter Benjamin: Critical Essays and Recollections, ed. G a r y S m i t h ( C a m b r i d g e : M I T Press, 1988), p p . 115, 117, 120. I a g r e e w i t h H a b e r m a s ' v i e w o f t h e t r u l y i m p o r t a n t e m p h a s e s in B e n j a m i n ' s w o r k , a l t h o u g h h e is c o n s i d e r a b l y m o r e s y m p a t h e t i c t h a n I a m to their effects o n B e n j a m i n ' s v i e w s o f art a n d o f history. 7. In a n o t e t o his b r i e f c o m m e n t a r y o n " C o r r e s p o n d a n c e s , " B e n j a m i n d e scribes c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s in m i m e t i c t e r m s : " B e a u t y in its r e l a t i o n s h i p t o nature can b e d e f i n e d as that w h i c h ' r e m a i n s t r u e t o its essential n a t u r e o n l y w h e n veiled.' T h e correspondances tell us w h a t is m e a n t b y such a veil. W e m a y call it, in s o m e w h a t d a r i n g a b b r e v i a t i o n , t h e ' r e p r o d u c i n g aspect' o f t h e w o r k o f art. T h e correspondances c o n s t i t u t e the c o u r t o f j u d g m e n t b e f o r e w h i c h t h e o b j e c t o f art is f o u n d t o b e a f a i t h f u l r e p r o d u c t i o n — w h i c h , t o b e sure, m a k e s it entirely p r o b l e m a t i c " ( " O n S o m e M o t i f s in B a u d e l a i r e , " p. 199). O b v i o u s l y t h e m o s t p r o b l e m a t i c aspect o f these r e m a r k s is their relation t o B a u d e l a i r e . 8. For a brilliant c r i t i q u e o f t h e " m o d e r n i s t m y t h " o f o r i g i n a l i t y a n d o f t h e original w o r k b e h i n d all copies o f it, see Rosalind E. K r a u s s , " T h e O r i g i nality o f t h e A v a n t - G a r d e , " in The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths ( C a m b r i d g e : M I T Press, 1985). F u r t h e r m o r e , B e n j a m i n is n a i v e a b o u t w h a t he s e e m s t o see as t h e s u d d e n e m e r g e n c e o f t e c h n o l o g i c a l f a c t o r s in artistic c o m p o s i t i o n . A d o r n o c o m p l a i n e d : " Y o u u n d e r - e s t i m a t e t h e technicality o f a u t o n o m o u s art [the i n d i v i d u a l m a s t e r w o r k s o f classical a n d

Notes to Pages 58-60

9.

10.

11. 12.

217

bourgeois art] and over-estimate that of dependent art [art dependent on technology for its production]" (Aesthetics and Politics, p. 124). As Habermas rightly notes, " B e n j a m i n was always ambivalent about the loss of aura" ("Consciousness-Raising or Rescuing C r i t i q u e , " p. 106). I a m interpreting this celebrated Benjaminian concept in the light of what I take to be his profound distrust not only of modernity but also of history itself, although I realize that " T h e Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" can be read as an almost enthusiastic announcement of the w o r k of art's emancipation, " f o r the first time in world history . . . f r o m its parasitical dependence on ritual" (Illuminations, p. 224). Such a reading would of course underline such remarks as: "We d o not deny that in some cases today's films can also p r o m o t e revolutionary criticism of social conditions, even of the distribution of p r o p e r t y " (Illuminations, p. 231), although with regard to such hopes Adorno's sarcastic c o m m e n t may not be entirely out of place: "the idea that a reactionary is turned into a m e m b e r of the avant-garde by expert knowledge of Chaplin's films strikes me as o u t - a n d - o u t romanticization" (Aesthetics and Politics, p. 123). " T h e Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" is, for all its fame, surely one of Benjamin's least satisfactory performances, although its incoherences, hasty j u d g m e n t s , and ambiguous emphases reflect—and make painfully visible—fundamental characteristics of his thought. For an extremely acute and sympathetic reading of Benjamin's film theory, see Miriam Hansen, "Benjamin, Cinema and Experience: ' T h e Blue Flower in the Land of Technology,' " New German Critique, 40 (Winter 1987), 179-224. Recognizing Benjamin's attitude toward the decline of the aura as " p r o f o u n d l y ambivalent," Hansen defines the " r e d e m p t i v e " function that Benjamin assigns to film in terms of its "registering sediments of experience that are n o longer or not yet claimed by social and economic rationality, making them readable as emblems of a 'forgotten future.' " Cinema raises the possibility of "the discontinuous return of the auratic m o d e of experience through the back door of the 'optical unconscious' " (pp. 187, 209, 212). " O n Language as Such and on the Language of M a n , " in Walter Benjamin, Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings, ed. Peter Demetz, trans. E d w a r d Jcphcott (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978), p. 318. Ibid., pp. 323, 321. T h e fascist use of art is closer than the c o m m u n i s t use of art to art's role in religious rituals. C o m m u n i s m , Benjamin writes, responds to fascism b y "politicizing art." T h a t is, it insists that certain practices already going on in a society (artistic production) have a political value (and the insistence is of course both descriptive and prescriptive). This is different f r o m what is either a kind of invention of art for political purposes or an aesthetic reworking of political expression—which can be t h o u g h t of as characteristic of both m o d e r n fascism and of social groups in which what we n o w recognize as art is, or was, used in cultic contexts. Strictly speaking, and unlike the c o m munist appropriation of art, the aestheticizing of politics in ritual does not depend on the prior existence of an art independent of ritual.

218

Notes to Pages

61-66

13. " T h e o l o g i c o - P o l i t i c a l F r a g m e n t , " in Reflections, pp. 3 1 2 - 3 1 3 . For s o m e significant distinctions b e t w e e n h u m a n and divine violence, see " C r i t i q u e o f Violence," in Reflections, pp. 2 7 7 - 3 0 0 . 14. Wolin, An Aesthetic of Redemption, p. 39. As w e m i g h t expect, B e n j a m i n is m u c h better at d r a w i n g o u r attention to images o f decay and deadness than at locating m o m e n t s o f transcendental e r u p t i o n . H e acutely notes, for e x ample, Baudelaire's " e m p a t h y w i t h i n o r g a n i c t h i n g s , " and he writes s u g g e s tively, again in connection w i t h Baudelaire, a b o u t t h e intoxicating effect o f a city's masses o n the very c o m m o d i t i e s (including h u m a n bodies) t h e city offers ( " o n l y the mass m a k e s it possible for the sexual object t o b e c o m e intoxicated w i t h t h e h u n d r e d stimuli w h i c h it p r o d u c e s " ) . B e n j a m i n , " T h e Paris o f the Second E m p i r e in B a u d e l a i r e , " in Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism, trans. H a r r y Z o h n ( L o n d o n : N e w Left B o o k s , 1973), pp. 5 5 - 5 7 . In contrast to this, Benjamin's idealist bias leads h i m t o identify Baudelairean correspondences w i t h the experience o f t h e ideal, w i t h " t h e data o f r e m e m b r a n c e — n o t historical data, b u t data o f p r e h i s t o r y " ( " O n S o m e M o t i f s in B a u d e l a i r e , " 182), and this blinds h i m t o the w a y in w h i c h the proliferation o f correspondences in m o d e r n life w o r k t o break d o w n t h e very o p p o s i t i o n b e t w e e n spleen and ideal. It should be pointed o u t that B e n j a m i n — f o r example, in t h e 1929 piece o n " S u r r e a l i s m " — c a m e to insist o n " a profane illumination," a materialistic anthropological inspiration, o n e even conceived of as " t h e true, creative o v e r c o m i n g of religious i l l u m i n a t i o n " (Reflections, p. 179). T h i s strikes, it is true, quite a different n o t e f r o m the j u d g m e n t o f " n a t u r a l life" in t h e 1922 essay o n " G o e t h e ' s Elective Affinities." In t h e earlier piece, B e n j a m i n s p o k e o f h u m a n life's r e m a i n i n g innocent " o n l y as l o n g as it is c o n n e c t e d t o a h i g h e r life . . . W h e n s u p e r n a t u r a l life disappears f r o m man's existence, even if he does n o t c o m m i t any i m m o r a l acts, man's natural life is b u r d e n e d w i t h guilt"—Essais, vol. 1, 1 9 2 2 - 1 9 3 4 , trans, i n t o French b y M a u r i c e de G r a n dillac (Paris: D e n o e l / G o n t h i e r , 1 9 7 1 - 1 9 8 3 ) , p. 43. B u t w h e t h e r t h e source o f t h e illumination be p r o f a n e o r divine, it is in b o t h cases an assault o n historical time, and the " T h e s e s o n the P h i l o s o p h y o f H i s t o r y , " w i t h its m e d i tation o n a Jetzzeit " s h o t t h r o u g h w i t h chips of Messianic t i m e , " w a s c o m p l e t e d in 1940, the year o f Benjamin's death. 15. The Origin of German Tragic Drama, pp. 178, 182. 16. Charles Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, trans. J o n a than M a y n e ( L o n d o n : P h a i d o n Press, 1964), p. 3; Oeuvres completes, 2 vols., ed. C l a u d e Pichois (Paris: B i b l i o t h e q u e de la Pleiade, G a l l i m a r d , 1976), 2 : 6 8 5 . Page references t o this essay are given in text, first t o t h e E n g l i s h edition and then to the French. 17. B e n j a m i n , Charles Baudelaire, p. 82. 18. " T h i s is in fact an excellent o p p o r t u n i t y to establish a rational and historical t h e o r y of b e a u t y " ; "I d e f y a n y o n e to point t o a single scrap o f b e a u t y " ; " C o n s i d e r , if y o u will, the eternally subsisting p o r t i o n as t h e soul of a r t " (3). 19. T h e failure of certain periods to represent t h e material side of their m o dernity is excusable o n l y " i n t h e case o f a m a s q u e r a d e prescribed by f a s h -

Notes to Pages 68- 74

20.

21. 22. 23.

24.

25. 26.

27.

219

i o n . " Also, " t h e goddesses, n y m p h s and sultanas of the eighteenth century are still convincing portraits, morally speaking" (13; 695). " T h e Salon of 1846," in The Mirror of Art: Critical Studies by Charles Baudelaire, trans. Jonathan Wayne (London: Phaidon Press, 1955), p. 84; Oeuvres completes, 2 : 4 5 5 - 4 5 6 . Ibid., pp. 8 4 - 8 5 ; 2:455. M y translation; Oeuvres completes, 1:692. T h e use of b o d y positions and penetrations as a pretext for sexist ideologies of power is thus implicitly set aside by Baudelaire's recognition that the other can j u s t as easily be substituted for the self in a m o v e of penetration as in the acquiescence to being penetrated. But this still leaves us with Baudelaire's misogyny, to which 1 will be c o m i n g back. Freud, The Ego and the Id, in Standard Edition, 1 9 : 2 5 - 2 6 ; and Leo Bersani, The Freudian Body: Psychoanalysis and Art, ( N e w York: Columbia University Press, 1986), p. 95. Freud, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, in The Standard Edition, 7:203. See Bersani, The Freudian Body, pp. 3 7 - 3 9 , and Jean Laplanche, Life and Death in Psychoanalysis, trans. JefFrey M e h l m a n (Baltimore: Johns H o p k i n s University Press, 1976), pp. 8 7 - 8 8 . T h e by n o w classical " m o r a l " perspective on Baudelairean masochism can be found in Jean-Paul Sartre's Baudelaire (Paris: Gallimard, 1947). For t w o critical responses to the Sartrean thesis, see Georges Blin, Le Sadisme de Baudelaire (Paris: Jose Corti, 1948), and Georges Bataille, "Baudelaire," in La Litterature et le mal (Paris: Gallimard, 1957). In a m o v e that has analogies to m y argument here, Bataille defines the poetic as "a relation of participation of the subject in the object" (p. 48).

28. " T h e Salon of 1846," in The Mirror of Art, p. 85: Oeuvres completes, 2 : 455-456. 29. Jacques Le Rider speaks of a 1921 essay by Lou-Andreas Salome on narcissism which, Le Rider notes, condenses an important poetic and moral debate f r o m the beginning of the century. Le Rider finds echoes of Nietzsche, Rilke, and Freud and his disciples in Salome's nostalgia for the lost (narcissistic) union of the self and the world. She also w r o t e to a skeptical Freud of the liberation of the drive toward that union as the goal of a successful analysis. See Jacques Le Rider, "Le Narcissisme orphique de Rainer Maria Rilke," Europe, 719 (March 1989). Indeed, in early analytic circles, there are interesting discussions of the b r e a k d o w n of the barriers between the " I " and the " n o n - I . " Paul Federn, for example, arguing against the prevalent view of feelings of estrangement f r o m the world as accompanied b y "an increase in narcissism attended by a decrease in object-cathexis," characterized estrangement as a state that ensues w h e n " t h e ego b o u n d a r y loses some of its libidinal cathexis," thus suggesting the importance of narcissism for an erotic interest in objects. " F r o m the very beginning, the primary ego feeling also includes the external w o r l d , " although this type of object cathexis "is of a purely narcissistic nature and not yet that of object libido." Federn, Ego Psychology and the Psychoses, ed. E d o a r d o Weiss (London: Maresfield Reprints, 1953), pp. 284, 294-295; see especially chaps. 2 and 15.

220

Notes to Pages

75-89

To put m y o w n speculations in relation to these other texts: I have been suggesting, especially in m y readings of Freud and Baudelaire, that in primary narcissism ego boundaries are at once constituted, "cathected," and exploded. Narcissism would be essential, as Federn proposes, to feelings of closeness to the world, but this would be because narcissism tends to dissolve (not to fortify) those boundaries separating the self f r o m the nonself. T h e fantastic expansion of the ego beyond its boundaries is not a t r i u m p h of the ego, for it is only when the ego loses its identity that such an expansion is conceivable. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34.

35.

36. 37. 38. 39. 40.

41.

42.

M y translation; Oeuvres completes, 2:133. Benjamin, Charles Baudelaire, pp. 9 8 - 1 0 0 . Ibid., pp. 5 5 - 5 6 . Oeuvres completes, 2:73; Les Fleurs du mal, trans. Richard H o w a r d (Boston: David R. Godine, 1982), p. 75. This a r g u m e n t is elaborated, in the context of analyses of ancient Assyrian sculpture, in Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit, The Forms of Violence: Narrative in Assyrian Art and Modern Culture, ( N e w York: Schocken, 1985). M y translation; Oeuvres completes, 1:702, 700, 677. Mon coeur mis a nu also includes these f a m o u s lines on w o m e n : " A w o m a n is h u n g r y and she wants to eat. Thirsty and she wants to drink. / She is in heat and she wants to be screwed. / What admirable qualities! / Woman is natural, that is to say a b o m i nable. " M y translation; Oeuvres completes, 1:677. M y translation; Oeuvres completes, 1:678. Oeuvres completes, 1:150; Les Fleurs du mal, trans. H o w a r d , p. 124. Ibid., 1:114; p. 130. M y translation; Oeuvres completes, 1 : 2 7 5 - 2 7 6 . Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy and The Case of Wagner, trans. Walter K a u f m a n n (New York: R a n d o m House, 1967), pp. 36, 46. Further references to The Birth of Tragedy will be to this translation, with page n u m b e r s given in text. As Walter K a u f m a n n reminds us in a note to this passage: "This conception of contemplation devoid of interest, as well as much else that is indebted to Schopenhauer, was later expressly criticized by Nietzsche" (48). Here is Nietzsche's j u d g m e n t of The Birth of Tragedy in his 1886 preface: "I consider it badly written, ponderous, embarrassing, image-mad and imageconfused, sentimental, in places saccharine to the point of effeminacy, u n even in tempo, w i t h o u t the will to logical cleanliness, very convinced and therefore disdainful of proof, mistrustful even of the propriety of proof, a book for initiates, 'music' for those dedicated to music, those w h o are closely related to begin with on the basis of c o m m o n and rare aesthetic experiences, 'music' meant as a sign of recognition for close relatives in artibus—an arrogant and rhapsodic book that sought to exclude right f r o m the beginning the profanum vulgus o f ' t h e educated' even m o r e than 'the mass' or 'folk.' " (19).

43. If Dionysus belongs to nature, Paul de Man writes, " t h e n he is forever and radically separated f r o m any f o r m of art, since n o bridge, as m e t a p h o r or as representation, can ever connect the natural realm of essences with the textual realm of f o r m s and values." D e M a n studies the "genetic pattern" and

Notes to Pages 90-1

10

221

t h e " i m a g e r y o f filiation" b y means o f w h i c h D i o n y s u s " c a n enter i n t o a w o r l d of appearances and still s o m e h o w r e m a i n " D i o n y s u s . B y a r g u i n g for " t h e d e c o n s t r u c t i o n of the genetic pattern in The Birth of Tragedy," de M a n intends to r e f u t e Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe's claim that in his first b o o k Nietzsche does n o t truly contest Schopenhauer's s t a t e m e n t that m u s i c is t h e u n m e d i a t e d i m a g e o f the will (a statement that accepts the "logical a b s u r d i t y " of u n m e d i a t e d representation) and, m o r e f u n d a m e n t a l l y , that N i e t z sche fails to contest the will itself "as t h e ontological category b y m e a n s of w h i c h b e g i n n i n g and end, origin and p u r p o s e are united in o n e genetic p a t t e r n . " D e M a n , Allegories of Reading: Figural Language in Rousseau, Nietzsche, Rilke, and Proust ( N e w H a v e n : Yale U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1979), p p . 96, 1 0 0 101. See also Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, " L e D e t o u r , " Poetique, 5 (1971), 5 3 - 7 6 ; the essay is reprinted in Le Sujet de la philosophic (Typographies I) (Paris: Aubier, F l a m m a r i o n , 1979), pp. 3 1 - 7 4 . 44. A r t does n o t " r e p r e s e n t " life: " I n d e e d , even w h e n the t o n e - p o e t expresses his c o m p o s i t i o n in images, w h e n for instance h e designates a certain s y m p h o n y as the 'pastoral' s y m p h o n y , or a passage in it as t h e 'scene b y t h e b r o o k , ' or a n o t h e r as the ' m e r r y gathering of rustics,' these t w o are o n l y symbolical representations b o r n of m u s i c — a n d n o t the imitated objects o f m u s i c — r e p r e s e n t a t i o n s w h i c h can teach us n o t h i n g w h a t s o e v e r c o n c e r n i n g t h e Dionysian content of music, and w h i c h indeed have n o distinctive value o f their o w n beside o t h e r i m a g e s " (54). 45. T h u s t r a g e d y carries a metaphysical h o p e and is n o t , in t h e o r d i n a r y sense, tragic. " A c c o r d i n g t o N i e t z s c h e , " as Deleuze writes, "it has never been u n d e r s t o o d that the tragic equals the j o y f u l . " Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy trans. H u g h T o m l i n s o n ( N e w York: C o l u m b i a U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1983), p. 36. 46. It is therefore, m o r e radically, u n t h i n k a b l e . For H e i d e g g e r this m e a n t , a b o v e all, unavailable to metaphysical t h i n k i n g . Discussing " t h e Eternal R e c u r rence of the s a m e , " H e i d e g g e r writes: " T h a t N i e t z s c h e experienced and e x p o u n d e d his m o s t a b y s m a l t h o u g h t f r o m the D i o n y s i a n s t a n d p o i n t o n l y suggests that he was still c o m p e l l e d to think it metaphysically, and o n l y metaphysically. B u t it does n o t preclude that this m o s t a b y s m a l t h o u g h t conceals s o m e t h i n g u n t h o u g h t , w h i c h also is i m p e n e t r a b l e to metaphysical t h i n k i n g . " M a r t i n H e i d e g g e r , " W h o Is Nietzsche's Z a r a t h u s t r a ? " trans. B e r n d M a g n u s , in The New Nietzsche, ed. D a v i d B. Allison ( C a m b r i d g e : M I T Press, 1985), p. 79.

4. Literature

and

History

1. A n d r e M a l r a u x , Man's Fate, trans. H a a k o n M . Chevalier ( N e w York: R a n d o m H o u s e , 1934, 1961), p p . 2 2 7 - 2 2 8 ; La Condition humaine (Paris: Gallim a r d , 1946), p. 229. Further page references, first to the English translation and then t o the French, are given in text. 2. G e o r g e s Bataille, Blue of Noon, trans. H a r r y M a t t h e w s ( N e w York: U r i z e n , 1978; reprint M a r i o n Boyars Publishers, 1985), p. 12; Le Bleu du ciel, in Oeuvres completes, vol. 3 (Paris: Gallimard, 1971), p. 385. F u r t h e r p a g e r e f -

222

Notes to Pages

111-133

erences, first to the English translation and then to the French, are given in text. 3. T h e introduction to Le Bleu du del appeared separately, with the title " D i r t y , " in 1945, with the indication that it had been written in 1928. B a taille's manuscript also suggests that he eliminated sixteen pages f r o m the beginning of part 2 (we g o f r o m page 17 to page 34, and Bataille notes: " m a n q u e n t 16 pages supprimees"). See Oeuvres completes, 3:560. 4. Denis Hollier, writing brilliantly about Bataille's use of the D o n Juan tradition, speaks of two crucial transformations: the C o m m a n d e r s sexualization and D o n Juan's necrophilia (the C o m m a n d e r has become D o n Juan's D o n Juan). See Denis Hollier, "Bataille's T o m b : A Halloween Story." October, 33 (Summer 1985). 5. D . H . Lawrence, Women in Love (New York: Viking, 1960), p. viii. 5. Flaubertian

Rhythms

of

Knowledge

1. Gustave Flaubert, Bouvard and Pecuchet, trans. A . J . Krailsheimer ( N e w York: Penguin, 1976), pp. 143-144; Bouvard et Pecuchet, ed. Claudine G o t h o t Mersch (Paris: Gallimard, 1979), pp. 219-220. Further page references t o Bouvard et Pecuchet (as well as to the Dictionnaire des idees refues, also included in these editions) are given in text, first to the English and then to the French. 2. In his remarkable study of Bouvard et Pecuchet, Charles Bernheimer reaches conclusions similar to mine about the detachment of Flaubert's text f r o m its presumed sources: " T h e reader is confronted by a text that purports to be the response of t w o fictional characters to t w o anterior texts, but, as he reads, the precise outlines of both texts and response are effaced and he is set adrift in a flotsam of surreal or hallucinatory images of undefined o r i g i n . " Bernheimer interprets this detachment of the signifier f r o m the signified in the psychoanalytic terms of a withdrawal of erotic investment, and the c o n sequent operation of the death instinct. H e also argues that Bouvard and Pecuchet "have n o existential c o m m i t m e n t to any of the codes they a d o p t , " which of course runs counter to m y distinction between the narrator and Flaubert's b o n s h o m m e s . Bernheimer, Flaubert and Kaßta: Studies in Psychopoetic Structure (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), pp. 120, 113. 3. T h e absence of attribution is also a way of depriving the sources of such summaries of their epistemological authority. In comparing Flaubert's notes for the novel to the published text, Claude Duchet has studied this "process of disinformation." O b s c u r e d and distorted, the texts behind Bouvard et Pecuchet are unable to function as reliable sources of knowledge; we have "a counter-mimesis at w o r k on the level of the representation of ideas." Duchet, "Ecriture et desecriture de l'histoire dans Bouvard et Pecuchet," in Flaubert ά l'oeuvre, ed. R a y m o n d e Debray-Genette (Paris: Flammarion, 1980), p. 124). 4. Making a very different argument, Eugenio D o n a t o sees in Bouvard et Pecuchet an accurate representation of the "epistemological i d e o l o g y " — t h e belief, above all, that " t h e implicit order of N a t u r e and o f H i s t o r y " can be made visible—of the M u s e u m as that ideology was developed f r o m approxi-

Notes to Pages 134-140

223

mately the time of Buffon to that of Cuvier. Donato, " T h e M u s e u m ' s Furnace: Notes Toward a Contextual Reading of Bouvard et Pecuchet," in Textual Strategies: Perspectives in Post-Structuralist Criticism, ed.Josue V. Harari (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1979), p. 231. 5. Claudine Gothot-Mersch summarizes these notes, and provides excerpts f r o m the unpublished manuscripts, in her excellent edition of Bouvard et Pecuchet. See also Genevieve Bolleme, Le Second Volume de "Bouvard et Pecuchet" (Paris: Denoel, 1966), and the article by Claude M o u c h a r d and Jacques Neefs, "Vers le second volume de Bouvard et Pecuchet, in Flaubert a I'oeuvre. 6. Incomparable

America

1. H e r m a n Melville, Moby-Dick, ed. Harrison Hay ford and Hershel Parker ( N e w York: N o r t o n , 1967), pp. 545-546. Further page references to this edition are given in text. 2. Richard Poirier discusses the complications—the often conflicting energies— in American writers' perception of their relation to a cultural past in The Renewal of Literature: Emersonian Reflections (New York: R a n d o m House, 1987). 3. Nearly half the cetological passsages in Moby-Dick come f r o m books on whaling, in which references to whales can hardly be taken as p r o o f of the hold exercised by the whale, everywhere and at all times, o n h u m a n attention. We also know, thanks to the w o r k of Luther S. Mansfield and H o w ard P. Vincent for the 1952 Hendricks H o u s e edition of Moby-Dick, that while implying that he had read all the authorities he mentions, Melville's research often " w e n t n o further than his much-used copy of Beale's Natural History of the Sperm Whale" (editors' note, Moby-Dick, p. 117). Ishmael's research also parodies the research of other cetology efforts: the " l o n g detailed list of the outfits for the larders and cellars of 180 sail of D u t c h w h a l e m e n " (371) is a takeoff on a pedantically statistical passage in William Scoresby's History and Description of the Northern Whale Fishery. Finally, the proofs o f fered in " T h e Affidavit" chapter of the sperm whale's acting " w i t h wilful, deliberate designs of destruction to his pursuers" consist of little m o r e than examples of ships attacked by a whale, and the chapter ends with the contention that the sea monster whose capture in the Sea of M a r m o r a is related b y Procopius was a sperm whale, a contention supported by an astonishingly vague evidential chain: "Further investigations [what are they?] have recently proved to me, that in m o d e r n times there have been isolate instances of the presence of the sperm whale in the Mediterranean. I am told, on good authority, that o n the Barbary coast, a C o m m o d o r e Davis of the British navy f o u n d the skeleton of a sperm whale. N o w , as a vessel of war readily passes t h r o u g h the D a r d a nelles, hence a sperm whale could, by the same route, pass out of the Mediterranean into the Propontis. "In the Propontis, as far as I can learn, none of that peculiar substance called brit is to be found, the aliment of the right whale. But I have every

224

Notes to Pages

141-145

reason to believe that the f o o d o f the s p e r m w h a l e — s q u i d or cuttlefish—lurks at the b o t t o m o f that sea, because large creatures, b u t b y n o means the largest of that sort, have been f o u n d at its surface. I f , then, you properly put these statements together, and reason upon them a bit, y o u will clearly perceive that, according to all h u m a n reasoning, Procopius's seam o n s t e r , that for half a c e n t u r y stove the ships of a R o m a n E m p e r o r , m u s t in all probability have been a s p e r m w h a l e . " ( 1 8 1 - 1 8 2 ; e m p h a s i s mine). 4. M u c h o f the recent criticism of Moby-Dick has been concerned w i t h t h e n o v el's political significance. T h e s e readings have generally been o f a referential nature, p i n p o i n t i n g m o m e n t s and events in m i d - n i n e t e e n t h - c e n t u r y A m e r i c a to w h i c h Melville's w o r k w o u l d be addressing itself. Alan H e l m e r t s article "Moby-Dick and A m e r i c a n Political S y m b o l i s m " is seminal in this respect. A m o n g H e i m e r t ' s m a j o r claims are that "Melville associated t h e quest o f the ' s u b l i m e ' W h i t e Whale w i t h imperial aspirations" and that b e h i n d M o b y Dick and A h a b stand, respectively, Daniel Webster and J o h n C . C a l h o u n ; in American Quarterly, 15 (Winter 1963), 4 9 8 - 5 3 4 . M o r e recently, Michael Paul R o g i n has a r g u e d that "Melville is a r e c o r d e r and interpreter o f America's society w h o s e w o r k is c o m p a r a b l e to that o f the great n i n c t e e n t h - c e n t u r y E u r o p e a n realists" and, m o r e specifically, that "Moby-Dick registers t h e d e pendence o f America's f r e e d o m o n America's slavery, and the threat o f A m e r i c a n slavery to destroy America's f r e e d o m " ; Subversive Genealogy: The Politics and Art of Herman Melville (Berkeley: U n i v e r s i t y of California Press, 1979), pp. ix, 121. 5. T h i s a r g u m e n t is m a d e in C . L . R . James's stirringly personal b o o k , Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live In ( N e w York: C . L . R . James, 1953). T h e Pequod's crew, J a m e s writes, " o w e n o allegiance to any b o d y o r a n y t h i n g except the w o r k they have to d o and t h e relations w i t h o n e a n o t h e r on w h i c h that w o r k d e p e n d s " (p. 20.) " T h e contrast is b e t w e e n A h a b and the c r e w " ; Melville e n d o w e d the c r e w w i t h " t h e graces o f m e n associated for c o m m o n l a b o r " (p. 30). I will s o o n be raising objections to t h e w i d e s p r e a d t e n d e n c y to see Ishmael as a viable alternative to A h a b . F r o m a different perspective, D o n a l d E. Pease has also argued against such a reading. Criticizing t h e t e n d e n c y o f F. O . Matthiessen and " f o r t y years o f C o l d War critics" t o t u r n t o Ishamel as, in contrast to A h a b , " t h e principle of America's f r e e d o m , " Pease m a k e s a p e r suasive case for the structural i n t e r d e p e n d e n c e of A h a b and Ishmael. " A h a b ' s c o m p u l s i o n to decide compels Ishmael not to d e c i d e . " A n d : " T h e fate befalling Ahab's decisive conversion o f w o r k i n t o deed d e t e r m i n e s Ishmael's need of a realm in w h i c h t h e i n d e t e r m i n a t e play of endless possible actions o v e r d e t e r m i n e s his indecision." Pease, " M o b y - D i c k and the C o l d W a r , " in The American Renaissance Reconsidered: Selected Papers from the English Institute, 1982-83, ed. Walter B e n n Michaels and D o n a l d E. Pease 9 (Baltimore: J o h n s H o p k i n s U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1983). p. 147. 6. To m e n t i o n t w o ends of a kind of m o r a l s p e c t r u m of perspectives o n h o m o sexuality in Moby-Dick: Leslie Fiedler, in Love and Death in the American

Notes to Pages 148-153

225

Novel (New York: Stein and Day, 1966), finds Melville (and other American writers) unable to deal with adult heterosexual love. Robert K. Martin, in Hero, Captain, and Stranger: Male Friendship, Social Critique, and Literary Form in the Sea Novels of Herman Melville (Chapel Hill: University of N o r t h C a r o lina Press, 1986), reinterprets this failure as an accomplishment of the highest order. " T h e homosexual relationship," he writes, "is invested by Melville with radical social potential; it is t h r o u g h the affirmation of the values of nonaggressive male-bonded couples that the power of the patriarch can be contested and even defeated" (p. 70). Martin's argument has an engaging specificity. T h e patriarchal structure m i g h t be broken d o w n by a kind of c o m m u n a l masturbatory narcissism: " M e n coming together [in g r o u p masturbation] are n o t men fighting each other, or even men hurting w h a l e s " (p. 82). T h e pacification of the phallus t h r o u g h masturbation remains, h o w ever, a problematic notion. 7. I say this fully aware of what might be called the narratological p r o b l e m of Ishmael. Melville doesn't take m u c h trouble to maintain his presence t h r o u g h o u t the novel; for several chapters in a row, Ishmael the character disappears, and a fairly conventional omniscient narrator takes over. It could also be said that Ishmael is very unlike the other members of the c r e w — i n his understanding of Ahab, his h u m o r , his intellectuality. If I use " I s h m a e l " to refer consistently to Moby-Dick's narrator, it is because I think the very inconsistencies, and the apparent irreducibility of the narrative voice to a psychologically reliable narrative persona, themselves define a nearly u n definable, nearly unrecognizable persona that, mainly for the sake of convenience, we can call "Ishmael." But to use this n a m e consistently, as I have done, does not obviously mean that a conventional psychological or moral identity corresponds to the name. Ishmael must be as elusive, even as absent, as that incomparable America he nonetheless strives to express. A n d if, as a character, he is different f r o m the rest of the crew, he is, m o r e significantly, also a philosophical articulation of their estrangement, of the isolate condition. 8. T h e distance between this America and historical America is also suggested, f r o m another perspective, by the ship's name. T h e Pequod Indians, a reputedly bloodthirsty Connecticut tribe, were massacred by militia f r o m H a r t ford in 1637. If Melville's Pequod is an image of America, it is an America expelled f r o m America and eliminated b y America. Rogin writes that in n a m i n g Ahab's ship Pequod, Melville paid ironic h o m a g e to a process in which "the conquest of savages and the acquisition of their p o w e r " is implicitly seen as "regeneration t h r o u g h violence" (Subversive Genealogy, p. 124). For a study of this process, see Richard Slotkin, Regeneration Through Violence, (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1973). 9. In Pierre Melville himself will satirize the illusion of literary originality. A critique of the possibility of originality f r o m the perspective of a poststructuralist ideology of textuality can be found in Edgar D r y d e n , " T h e E n tangled Text: Melville's Pierre and the Problem of Reading," Boundary, 2 (July 1979). Joseph Riddell addresses the same question in "Decentering the

226

Notes to Pages

156-159

Image: T h e ' P r o j e c t ' o f ' A m e r i c a n Poetics?" in Textual Strategies: Perspectives in Post-Structuralist Criticism, ed. Josue V. Harari (Ithaca: C o r n e l l U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1979), pp. 3 2 2 - 3 5 8 .

7. Against

Ulysses

1. James Joyce, Ulysses, The Corrected Text, ed. H a n s Walter Gabler w i t h W o l f h a r d Steppe and Claus M e l c h i o r ( N e w York: R a n d o m H o u s e , 1986), p. 3. Further p a g e references to this edition are given in text. T h e " c o r r e c t e d t e x t " has, since I w o r k e d o n this chapter, b e c o m e the n o t o r i o u s text. J o h n Kidd's b y n o w f a m o u s attack o n this version o f Ulysses, and o n t h e Synoptic Edition that preceded it (in 1984), was published u n d e r t h e title " T h e Scandal o f Ulysses" in New York Review of Books, 35 ( J u n e 30, 1988), 3 2 - 3 9 . " T h e Synoptic Edition," K i d d argues, "is a s t u d y n o t of Joyce's m a n u s c r i p t s b u t o f inadequate facsimiles" (p. 34). Charles R o s s w a n n , several m o n t h s later, p u b lished a piece s h o w i n g that " K i d d ' s public criticisms o f the n e w Ulysses w e r e preceded b y serious private d o u b t s a m o n g t h e scholars w h o w e r e c h o s e n b y the estate to advise its e d i t o r s " ; " T h e N e w Ulysses: T h e H i d d e n C o n t r o versy," New York Review of Books, 35 ( D e c e m b e r 8, 1988), 5 3 - 5 8 . T h e reco r d o f t h e attention given to this quarrel will be a significant e n t r y in t h e annals o f institutionalized Joyceanism. 2. Perhaps the m o s t notable expression of this c o m p l a i n t can be f o u n d in S. L. G o l d b e r g , The Classical Temper: A Study of James Joyce's 'Ulysses' ( L o n d o n : C h a t t o and W i n d u s , 1969). G o l d b e r g speaks of a " p r e c a r i o u s intellectualization of s t r u c t u r e u n d e r w h i c h s o m e o f t h e later w r i t i n g collapses c o m pletely." In s o m e o f the chapters f r o m " C y c l o p s " on, " t h e gap b e t w e e n t h e f o r m a l values implicit in the techniques and organization a n d the values e n acted b y t h e characters progressively w i d e n s " (p. 281). 3. To certify the effects of m y o w n n e r v o u s (and p r o b a b l y imperfect) vigilance, I should add that G e r t y m a k e s a c a m e o appearance t o w a r d t h e end o f episode 10 ( " W a n d e r i n g R o c k s " ) , p. 208. 4. J o h n Paul Riquelme, Teller and Tale in Joyce's Fiction: Oscillating Perspectives (Baltimore: J o h n s H o p k i n s U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1983), p. 202. 5. H u g h K e n n e r , Joyce's Voices (Berkeley: U n i v e r s i t y o f California Press, 1978), Ρ· Π 6. T h e "stylistic i n t r u s i o n s " and p o i n t - o f - v i e w discontinuities in Ulysses can be fairly brief, as in the f o l l o w i n g m o v e away f r o m (and r e t u r n to) B l o o m ' s o w n l a n g u a g e to c o n v e y his t h o u g h t s a b o u t slaughtering animals f o r f o o d and his inner tableau of a cattle market: " A f t e r all there's a lot in that vegetarian fine flavour o f t h i n g s f r o m t h e earth garlic of course it stinks after Italian o r g a n g r i n d e r s crisp o f o n i o n s m u s h r o o m s truffles. Pain to the animal too. Pluck and d r a w f o w l . W r e t c h e d b r u t e s there at the cattlemarket waiting for the poleaxe t o split their skulls open. M o o . P o o r t r e m b l i n g calves. M e h . S t a g g e r i n g b o b . B u b b l e and squeak. B u t c h e r s ' buckets w o b b l y lights. Give us that brisket off the h o o k . P l u p . R a w h e a d and b l o o d y bones. Flayed glasseyed sheep

Notes to Pages 160-161

227

h u n g f r o m their haunches, sheepsnouts bloodypapered snivelling nosej a m on sawdust. Top and lashers going out. Don't maul t h e m pieces, young one. " H o t fresh blood they prescribe for decline. Blood always needed. Insidious. Lick it u p s m o k i n g h o t , thick sugary. Famished ghosts. " A h , I ' m h u n g r y (140)." T h e imagined sounds of the animals ( " M o o " and " M e h " ) usher in a change of scene and style. With "Butchers' buckets wobbly lights" we are probably n o longer in Bloom's thoughts of the slaughterhouse but, rather startlingly, in the slaughterhouse itself (with even snatches of direct speech f r o m that new scene: "Give us that brisket off the h o o k " and perhaps " D o n ' t maul t h e m pieces, young one"). And someone else has obviously come in to take Bloom's linguistic place for the dense impressionistic description of the hanging flayed sheep. Bloom's mind can also be invaded by an alien style w h e n he himself would be incapable of doing justice to the intensity of his o w n feelings. Here is part of his memory, as he drinks wine in D a n n y Byrne's pub, of the time he kissed Molly, many years before, "hidden under wild ferns on H o w t h " : "Ravished over her I lay, full lips full open, kissed her m o u t h . Y u m . Softly she gave m e in m y m o u t h the seedcake w a r m and chewed. M a w k i s h pulp her m o u t h had m u m b l e d sweetsour of her spittle. Joy: I ate it: j o y " (144). T h e syntactic inversions and condensations, the f u n n y " Y u m " in the middle of the description, and the symmetrical verbal columns of " j o y " which, in framing "I ate it," give to those words a kind of ceremonial dignity, provide a perspective at once slightly comic and slightly solemn on that m o m e n t of f u s i o n — o fjoined m o u t h s and shared seedcake—which B l o o m longingly relives as his "sense moistened [by the wine] r e m e m b e r e d . " O t h e r intrusions are structurally massive, as in the interruptions of the a n o n y m o u s p u b crawler's speech in " C y c l o p s " by parodies of newspaper articles and popular sentimental fiction. " C y c l o p s " even ends by violating its o w n intrusive principles: the last sentence of the final parody (of biblical prose), in which B l o o m ascends to heaven, ends with the jarring intrusion of the p u b crawler's style: " A n d they beheld H i m even H i m , ben B l o o m Elijah, amid clouds of angels ascend to the glory of the brightness at an angle of fortyfive degrees over Donohoe's in Little Green Street like a shot off a shovel" (283). 7. Fritz Senn, Joyce's Dislocutions: Essays on Reading as Translation, ed. John Paul Riquelme (Baltimore: Johns H o p k i n s University Press, 1984), p. 141. 8. David Hayman, Ulysses: The Mechanics of Meaning (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1970, 1982), p. 92. In the 1961 R a n d o m H o u s e edition of Ulysses used by Hayman, "Agenbite of i n w i t " occurs in this passage (as well as on the preceding page of the novel), thus making attribution of the passage even more difficult since, as H a y m a n notes, the phrase is surely Stephen's. 9. T h e Homeric correspondences are of course the best example of this double posture. Joyce w r o t e Ulysses with all these parallels in mind; he even intended to use the corresponding episode in the Odyssey as the title for each chapter. But then he w i t h d r e w those helpful chapter heads and kept the H o -

228

Notes to Page 161 meric reference only in the title of the book itself. And then he made sure that the correspondences would not be missed by making t h e m explicit in the schcma he sent to Carlo Linati in 1920. Finally, however, the correspondences to H o m e r , as Ulysses' readers quickly discover, are extremely casual and at times even comically unexpected or incongruous. Long sections of the Odyssey are simply ignored; the order of the episodes in Joyce—especially in the middle section, the tale of Odysseus' wanderings—does n o t follow H o m e r ' s order; and o n e j o y c e a n episode, "Wandering R o c k s , " has n o corresponding episode in H o m e r (since Odysseus chooses to risk the passage between Scylla and Charybdis rather than to attempt the even m o r e dangerous Wandering Rocks).

10. Kenner, Joyce's Voices, pp. 6 9 - 7 0 . 11. Here is the account of h o w Ignatius Gallaher seduces Little Chandler in " A Little C l o u d " with his stories of continental corruption: "Ignatius Gallaher puffed thoughtfully at his cigar and then, in a calm historian's tone, he p r o ceeded to sketch for his friend some pictures of the corruption which was rife abroad. H e summarised the vices of many capitals and seemed inclined to award the palm to Berlin. Some things he could not vouch for (his friends had told him), but of others he had had personal experience. H e spared neither rank nor caste. H e revealed many of the secrets of religious houses on the Continent and described some of the practices which were fashionable in high society and ended by telling, w i t h details, a story about an English duchess—a story which he k n e w to be true. Little Chandler was astonished." Dubliners (New York: Penguin, 1967), p. 78. We can imagine hearing a few echoes of actual speech ( " C o r r u p t i o n is rife a b r o a d , " " S o m e things I can't vouch f o r , " "That's a story I k n o w to be true"), but such echoes may actually be summaries of Gallaher's speech in the style of that speech. Simply to pose this alternative is already to begin m o v i n g outside his mind w i t h o u t quite leaving it (which is all the m o r e notable since the perspective is u n a m biguously that of a report on Gallaher's speech; the narrative camera is not, as in free indirect discourse, situated within the character's consciousness). T h e provincial and pretentious nature of Gallaher's disabused worldliness is exposed t h r o u g h the excessively scrupulous attention the narrator gives to his speech. It is the kind of talk that would distribute first, second, and third prizes in corruption, and so the narrator appears to be trying, in that vein, to guess which city Gallaher found most corrupt: he "seemed inclined to award the palm to Berlin." T h e closest we come to explicit c o m m e n t is the rather dry s u m m a r y of Gallaher's naive and self-serving repetition of all the r u m o r s he has heard ( " H e spared neither rank nor caste"), and the casual decision not to bother us with any of the details in that true story about an English duchess. Someone is paying even m o r e attention to Gallaher than Little Chandler is, to the point of k n o w i n g that he can best be replayed by a decision to omit part of w h a t he says. We get the flavor of his speech, b u t that flavor comes to us not as an element of his actual speech or even as an appreciation of an external observer, but rather as a c o m p o n e n t in an objectifying point of view, a point of view that seeks ultimately n o t to be a point of view, to be instead the exact verbal translation of the essential Gallaher.

Notes to Pages 162-119

12. 13. 14.

15. 16. 17.

18.

19. 20. 21. 22. 23.

24.

229

Joyce himself, it should be noted, would probably have preferred to speak of this sort of writing as deliberately colorless, as realizing the ideal of "a style of scrupulous meanness." See his Letters, 3 vols., ed. Stuart Gilbert and Richard Ellmann (New York: Viking, 1966), letter to Grant Richards, May 8, 1906, 2:134. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Penguin, 1976), pp. 212-213. " T h e Boarding H o u s e , " Dubliners, p. 63. " A mbi violences: Notes for Reading Joyce," in Post-Structuralist Joyce: Essays from the French, ed. Derek Attridge and Daniel Ferrer (Cambridge: C a m bridge University Press, 1984), pp. 33, 57. For Lacan o n Joyce, as well as readings of Joyce by some of Lacan's disciples, see Joyce avec Lacan (Paris: Navarin, 1987). See Richard Poirier, " T h e Difficulties o f M o d e r n i s m and the M o d e r n i s m of Difficulty," Humanities in Society, 1 (Spring 1978). Frank Budgen, James Joyce and the Making of "Ulysses" (London: Grayson, 1934), p. 56. In a letter to Harriet Shaw Weaver, Joyce spoke of the "scorching" effect of his writing: "each specific episode, dealing with some province of artistic culture . . . leaves behind it a burnt up field." Letters, July 20, 1919, 1:129. T h e rest of this paragraph restates an a r g u m e n t made in m y chapter o n M a l raux and Bataille. T h e earlier juxtaposition of Bataille and Lawrence has even greater force here, in coupled contrast to Joyce. Joyce, Letters, letter to Frank Budgen, March 20, 1920, 1 : 1 3 9 - 1 4 0 . Richard Ellmann, Ulysses on the Liffey (London: Faber and Faber, 1972), p. 136-139. Kenner, Joyce's Voices, p. 40. In Leo Bersani, The Death of Stephane Mallarme (Cambridge: C a m b r i d g e University Press, 1982). J. S. Atherton, " T h e O x e n of the S u n , " in James Joyce's "Ulysses": Critical Essays, ed. Clive Hart and David H a y m a n (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), p. 331. See Atherton's essay for some examples o f h o w Joyce seems to have dipped into the guidebooks he apparently used most frequently for " O x e n o f the Sun" (Saintsbury's History of English Prose Rhythm and Peacock's anthology in the World's Classics series, English Prose: Mandeville to Ruskin).

8. Pynchon,

Paranoia, and

Literature

1. T h o m a s Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow (New York: B a n t a m Books, 1973), p. 295. All references will be to this edition, with page n u m b e r s in text. 2. See H . Ey, P. Bernard, and C . Brisset, Manuel de psychiatrie (Paris: Masson, 1978), chap. 7. T h e r e is a good s u m m a r y of the history of psychiatric t h o u g h t concerning paranoia, in the entry Paranoia, in Jean Laplanche and J.-B. Pontalis, The Language of Psychoanalysis, trans. Donald MicholsonSmith (New York: N o r t o n , 1974).

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Notes to Pages

180-206

3. Freud, " P s y c h o - a n a l y t i c N o t e s o n an A u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l A c c o u n t o f a C a s e o f Paranoia ( D e m e n t i a P a r a n o i d e s ) , " Standard Edition, 1 2 : 7 8 - 7 9 . 4. Pynchon's a t t a c h m e n t to that m y t h , and t o the p r e s u m e d o b l i g a t i o n o f t h e novelist " t o develop plot and c h a r a c t e r s , " is evident in the astonishing i n t r o d u c t i o n he w r o t e for the publication o f his early s h o r t stories, Slow Learner ( N e w York: B a n t a m B o o k s , 1984), p. xxviii.

Epilogue G e o r g e Segal's plaster sculpture, Abraham's Farewell to Ishmael (1987; c o p y r i g h t © 1989 by G e o r g e S e g a l / V A G A , N e w York), was first s h o w n at t h e Sidney Janis Gallery, N e w York; p h o t o g r a p h courtesy o f t h e gallery. 1. Genesis, chapter 12, verses 1 4 - 1 6 . I a m using the K i n g J a m e s version. 2. T h e fine v e r b " I s a a c - i n g " is R o b e r t Alter's coinage, and t h e q u o t e d w o r d s in this sentence are his. I a m also indebted t o Alter for p o i n t i n g o u t that t h e rabbis w h o read " m o c k i n g " in a sexual sense m a y have d o n e so f o r p h i l o logical reasons: the v e r b suggests sexual dalliance in t h e w o r d s of Potiphar's w i f e a b o u t J o s e p h in Genesis 39 or in Isaac's version of t h e sister-wife story, w h e n A b i m e l e c h looks o u t t h e w i n d o w and sees h i m " p l a y i n g " o r " f o o l i n g a r o u n d " w i t h Rebecca (Genesis 2 6 : 8 ) . 3. M o d e r n biblical scholarship tends to maintain that S o d o m was destroyed n o t for a n y t h i n g having to d o w i t h h o m o s e x u a l i t y , b u t rather f o r its i n h o s p i t a b l e t r e a t m e n t o f visitors sent b y G o d . See especially D e r r i c k S h e r w i n Bailey, Homosexuality in the Western Christian Tradition ( L o n d o n : L o n g m a n s G r e e n , 1955). A g o o d s u m m a r y o f t h e a r g u m e n t s a b o u t w h y S o d o m w a s destroyed can be f o u n d in J o h n Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century (Chicago: U n i v e r s i t y of C h i c a g o Press, 1980), p p . 9 2 - 9 7 .

Credits Sections of this b o o k have appeared, in preliminary f o r m , in the f o l l o w i n g j o u r nals: Critical Inquiry ( C h a p t e r 1), Novel: A Forum on Fiction ( C h a p t e r 5), Raritan ( C h a p t e r 7), and Representations ( C h a p t e r 8). M y t h a n k s to t h e publishers for permission t o reuse this material.

Index A b r a h a m and Sarah, 2 0 1 - 2 0 8 ; Abraham's Farewell to Ishmael (illus.), 200 A d o r n o , T h e o d o r , 5 3 - 5 4 , 2 1 5 n l , 216n6,8 Aeschylus, 92, 94 Alter, Robert, 230 n2 Archilochus, 8 7 - 9 0 A t h e r t o n . J . S., 177 Austen, Jane, 157

Bernheimer, Charles, 222 n2 Bersani, Leo: The Freudian Body, 36, 45, 70 Boswell, J o h n , 230 n3 Bowie, Malcolm, 2 1 4 n 3 Brecht, Bertolt, 2 1 5 n l B u d g e n , Frank, 164

Bailey, Derrick Sherwin, 2 3 0 n 3 Balzac, H o n o r e de, 69, 8 3 - 8 4 , 146; La Comedie humaine, 84 Bataille, Georges, 2, 4, 28, 219n27; Le Bleu du ciel, 102, 1 0 9 - 1 2 3 , 1 7 1 - 1 7 2 , 174 Baudelaire, Charles, 2, 4, 22, 28, 4 9 - 5 1 , 5 3 - 5 6 , 6 3 - 8 6 , 99; "Le Beau N a v i r e , " 78; "La Chevelure," 78, 80, 84; " C o r r e s p o n d a n c e s , " 5 5 - 5 6 ; " U n F a n t o m e , " 80; " F e m m e s d a m n e e s , " 83; Les Fleurs du mal, 83—84; "L'Invitation au voyage," 78, 80; Journaux intimes, 79; Mon Coeur mis ä nu, 6 9 - 7 0 , 79; "Le Peintre de la vie m o d e r n e , " 6 3 - 6 8 , 70, 7 9 - 8 0 , 82, 8 4 - 8 6 ; Salon de 1846, 6 7 - 6 8 ; "Les Sept Vieillards," 81, 84; Le Spleen de Paris, 7 7 - 7 9 , 8 4 - 8 6 ; Les Tableaux parisiens, 81; "La Vie anterieure," 55 Beckett, Samuel, 170-171; Company,

D a Vinci, Leonardo, 21, 34, 98 Deleuze, Gilles, 13, 221 n45 D e M a n , Paul, 174, 220 n43 D e Quincy, T h o m a s , 1 7 6 - 1 7 7 Derrida, Jacques, 174 D o n a t o , Eugenio, 222 n4 D r y d e n , Edgar, 225 n9 Duchet, Claude, 222 n 3

1 6 8 - 1 6 9 ; Waiting for Godot, 1 6 8 - 1 6 9 B e n j a m i n , Walter, 4 8 - 6 3 , 7 6 - 7 7 ; Arcades Project, 215n4; " O n L a n g u a g e , " 59; " O n S o m e Motifs in Baudelaire," 4 9 - 5 1 , 5 8 - 5 9 , 62; " T h e P a n s of the Seco n d E m p i r e in Baudelaire," 64; " T h e Storyteller," 49, 52; " T h e Task of the Translator," 59; "Theologico-Political F r a g m e n t , " 61; "Theses on the Philosophy of H i s t o r y , " 61; " U n p a c k i n g M y Library," 63; " T h e Work of Art in the A g e of Mechanical R e p r o d u c t i o n , " 49, 56-62

Claudel, Paul, 77

Ehrenzweig, A n t o n , 2 1 3 n 3 Eissler, Kurt, 2 1 3 n 3 Eliot, T. S „ 47, 164 Federn, Paul, 219n29 Ferenczi, Sandor, 16, 19 Fiedler, Leslie, 224 n6 Flaubert, Gustave, 4, 11, 168; Bouvard et Pecuchet, 1 2 7 - 1 3 5 , 163, 169-170; Dietionnaire des idees refues, 134-135; Madame Bovary, 129—131; Tentation de St. Antoine, 166 Foucault, Michel, 174 Freud, S i g m u n d , 3, 16, 1 8 - 1 9 , 2 1 - 2 2 , 74, 1 6 5 - 1 6 6 , 1 7 9 - 1 8 1 , 215n6; Beyond the Pleasure Principle, 5 0 - 5 3 ; " C h a r a c t e r and Anal E r o t i c i s m , " 2 9 - 3 3 , 4 5 - 4 6 ; Ego and the Id, 22, 38, 70; Interpretation of Dreams, 33; Kunstedeutung, 33; " O n Narcissism," 3 - 4 , 3 4 - 4 5 , 72, 98; Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, 3 0 - 3 1 , 3 5 - 3 6 , 71—72, 166; unpublished papers on s u b limation metapsychology, 3 3 - 3 5

232

Index

Gide, Andre, 114, 146 Goldberg, S. L., 2 2 6 n 2 G o t h o t - M e r s c h , Claudine, 223 n5 Guys, Constantin, 63, 6 5 - 6 6 , 68, 73, 80-81 Habermas, J ü r g e n , 216n6, 2 1 7 n 9 Hansen, M i r i a m , 217n9 H a w t h o r n e , Nathaniel, 136, 138 H a y m a n , David, 160, 2 2 7 n 8 Heath, Stephen, 163, 171 Heidegger, Martin, 221 n46 H e i m e r t , Alan, 224 n4 Hollier, Denis, 222 n4 James, C . L. R., 224 n5 James, Henry, 86; Europeans, 168, 171; Turn of the Screw, 114 Jones, Ernest, 1 6 - 1 7 , 19 Joyce, James: Dubliners, 161-163; Finnegans Wake, 47, 165; Portrait of the Artist, 161; Ulysses, 47, 113, 133, 1 5 5 - 1 7 8 , 187 K a u f m a n n , Walter, 220 n41 Kenner, H u g h , 1 5 8 - 1 5 9 , 161 Kernberg, O t t o F., 215n6 Kidd, John, 2 2 6 n l Kilmartin, Terence, 211 n 2 Klein, Melanie, 1 5 - 2 2 , 32, 9 7 - 9 8 , 211 n5; " C o n t r i b u t i o n to the Psycho-Genesis of Manic-Depressive States," 21; "Early Analysis," 1 5 - 2 1 , 28; "Early D e v e l o p ment of Conscience," 19 Klein, Milton, 2 1 5 n 6 Kohut, Heinz, 214n3, 215n6 KrafFt-Ebing, Richard von, 166 Krauss, Rosalind E., 2 1 6 n 8 Kris, Ernst, 2 1 3 n 3 Lacan, Jacques, 174, 213n2, 2 1 4 n 3 Lacoue-Labarthe, Philippe, 221 n43 Laplanche, Jean, 21, 213n2, 2 1 4 n 4 Lawrence, D. H . , 113; Women in Love, 171, 1 7 3 - 1 7 4 Leibniz, Gottfried, 13 Le Rider, Jacques, 2 1 9 n 2 9 Leskov, Nikolai, 49, 52 Lyotard, Jean-Frangs, 2 1 3 n 3 Mallarme, Stephane, 1 7 3 - 1 7 4 Malraux, Andre, 117; La Condition humaine, 1 0 2 - 1 1 0 , 113 M a n n , T h o m a s , 114

Mansfield, Luther S., 2 2 3 n 3 Marcuse, Herbert, 2 1 2 n l 5 Martin, Robert K., 225 n6 Melville, H e r m a n : " H a w t h o r n e and His Mosses," 1 3 6 - 1 3 8 , 140-141; MobyDick, 1 3 6 - 1 5 4 , 155, 208 M o n c r i e f f C. K. Scott, 211n2 Nietzsche, Friedrich, 2; The Birth of Tragedy, 3, 8 6 - 1 0 1 Pease, D o n a l d E., 2 2 4 n 5 Plato, 2 Poirier, Richard, 164, 223n2 Proust, Marcel, 2 0 - 2 8 , 53, 58, 61, 98, 108, 121, 146-147; A l'Ombre des jeunes filles en fleur, 10, 13, 22, 26; La Prisonniere, 24; A la Recherche du temps perdu, 2, 7 - 1 5 , 2 2 - 2 8 , 1 1 3 - 1 1 4 , 172; Sodome et Gomorrhe, 7 - 1 0 , 13, 2 3 - 2 7 ; Le Temps retrouve, 7, 1 0 - 1 4 P y n c h o n , T h o m a s , 2; Gravity's Rainbow, 179-199 Reik, T h e o d o r , 51 Riddell, Joseph, 225 n9 Riquelme, J o h n Paul, 158 Rogin, Michael Paul, 2 2 4 n 4 Rosswann, Charles, 2 2 6 n l Sacher-Masoch, Leopold von, 166 Salome, Lou-Andreas, 219n29 Sartre, Jean-Paul, 11, 1 0 2 - 1 0 3 , 105, 131, 219n27 Scholem, G e r s h o m , 2 1 5 n l Scoresby, William, 223 n3 Segal, George, 2 0 3 - 2 0 5 ; Abraham's Farewell to lshmaei (illus.), 200 Senn, Fritz, 160 Shakespeare, William, 97, 130, 136, 138, 159 Socrates, 2 Sophocles, 9 1 - 9 2 , 94, 97, 139, 199 Sperber, Hans, 16 Stendhal (Marie Henri Beyle), 155, 175 Tolstoy, Leo, 155 Tribich, David, 2 1 5 n 6 Valery, Paul, 51 Vincent, H o w a r d P., 2 2 3 n 3 Wolin, Richard, 53