... it's a little bit what we could say of Rothko and his work, which opens up and closes in all directions at one and the same time - it's unassailable. This seems to be characteristic of every singularity: impregnable from outside and totally open towards the inside - initiatory. Such sentences are more precious than a whole explanatory presentation. They are, by their transparent opacity, a kind of miracle, since they have behind them, nonetheless, a clandestine intuition of meaning. It isn't nonsense; it's just before meaning arrives; before the trap closes again.
I think of Hölderlin [...] when he speaks of rivers, trees, cities and mythical heroes. He doesn't speak of them in mythological terms at all, in allegorical or romantic terms. He's the site of their dramaturgy. He's the place where the gods metamorphose, the place where rivers metamorphose, the site where all the fragments of becoming converge. He doesn't liberate the world, he doesn't express it. He's at the confluence of the forces that come from all sides, and he's in thrall to their metamorphosis. You find this in Rimbaud, too, from Illuminations to A Season in Hell: it's a continual metamorphosis from one sentence to the next, and the form conveys this surprise of the whole world in a few sentences.
... the wonderful story of John, for example, who reaches the age of 14 without saying a word and then, one day, suddenly begins to speak in order to ask for the sugar. They ask him why he's never spoken before and he says, "Up until then, everything was perfect" ...
The world is perfect if you take it as it is, as absolute self-evidence. Then that self-evidence is disturbed, and you have to begin to explain it, to give it a meaning - and that's the beginning of the end.
Human beings can't bear themselves, they can't bear their otherness, this duality; can't bear it either in the world or in themselves. They can't bear failing the world by their very existence, nor the world failing them. They've sown disorder everywhere, and in wishing to perfect the world, they end up in a sense failing themselves. Hence this self-hatred, this detestation that fuels the whole technological effort to make the world over anew. A kind of vengeance on oneself or on the human race arising out of our having contravened the order of the world by the very act of our appearance. We can't do anything about this, but it in no way diminishes the fact that the situation is unbearable. It's on this failing of existence that all religions thrive. You have to pay. In the past it was God who took the reprisals, now we do it. It's we who've undertaken to inflict the worst on ourselves, and to engineer our disappearance in an extremely complex and sophisticated way, in order to restore the world to the pure state it was in before we were in it.
... evil is made over into misfortune. Evil is soluble in misfortune. That's what 'victimhood' is.
... ressentiment is the product of an - inevitably - disappointed idealization. Cioran says, for example, that it's the desire to give a meaning to life that makes us failures.
... everything's idiomatic. What remains strange is that we strive remorselessly to disenchant this singular object, to pervert the real, precisely by giving it meaning.
... thought is something different from - human, all too human - reflection; it is, rather, the refraction of what there is that's inhuman in the world. We might equally say: it's the inhuman that thinks us.
... this world, the virtual world, no longer asks itself the question of impossible exchange: it has swallowed its own mirror; it has swallowed its own reference; it is its own truth. No transcendence any more, and hence no questioning.
... the space of the screen, of virtual reality, is the space of the abolition of night, the abolition of the alternation of night and day and of waking and dreaming - in a kind of perpetual watchfulness. One of the great differences between a future 'trans-realised' species and ourselves will be the definitive absence of night and dreaming. Now, consciousness exists only by passing from night to day, from sleeping to waking.
Never being able to rest from oneself is the worst of hypotheses. Might that have happened to God? to indulge in more fantastical hypotheses of this kind, might God also be a victim of insomnia? Might we be the product of his insomnia rather than his dreams?
It's an abominable vision: we'd be a species akin to those battery hens who never see the light of day. The lights are permanently left on so that they lose all sense of time, so that they eat constantly and fatten up at great speed. This is how those hormone-inflated species grow, having never walked and never really been able to sleep.
It seemed to be that, in the guise of libidinal deregulation, Deleuze and Lyotard were simply ratifying the future state of things.
There are styles of writing [...] that have no secret to them, where you see how they've been manufactured - like a technical object. But sometimes, in writing, you have the delightful impression that something has worked secretly, something unforeseeable, something you have no sight of. A secret which is, in the end, a bit like the secret of birth - your own birth remains forever a secret to you (your own death too).
... art isn't useless in itself [...] it is useless additionally; it's beyond usefulness and uselessness. Unfortunately, it doesn't remain in that sublime zone: from the nineteenth century onwards, it aspires to be useless, it plays at the uselessness of 'art for art' and at that point it sinks into aesthetics.
... dysfunctioning is a variant - and perhaps the most successful variant - of functioning, that inadaption is the most successful form of adaptation, etc. Things are more complicated today, because the fact of dysfunctioning is part of the game. Everyone's required to be different, singular, anomic, subversive. And even disablement is a bonus. There's a whole paranormal conformism going on.
... what is worthless is precisely that which has forgotten the nothing. [...] from time to time, the nothing draws attention to itself as what it 'is'; the absent term of every exchange resurfaces in the breakdown, the accident, the crisis of generalized exchange.
Everything is exchanged for nothing - that is 'traditional' nihilism. By contrast, nothing is exchanged, the nothing is inexchangable - this is impossible exchange, though here we have the superlative dimension, the poetic dimension of impossible exchange. This is the opposite of nihilism. it is the resurgence of the nothing at the hear of the essent, at the heart of the something. Warhol talked, for example, of bringing out the nothingness at the heart of the image. And Barthes's punctum in photography is this too: the blind spot, the non-place at the heart of the image. what, then, would the opposite of nihilism be?
... it's the dual form that creates the void and preserves the void, whereas oneness, being always the oneness of the whole, of the something, no longer leaves space for the noting. Antonio Machado says that we always credit God with having created the world ex nihilo, with having created something out of nothing, but we ought to acknowledge in him a much higher power, that of having created nothingness out of something.
Let's go back to the question of nihilism. In the Heideggerain version, it's the forgetting of the nothing, and hence its exclusion. In the Nietzschean version, that of active nihilism, it might be said to mean pushing things, value systems, to their limits, where it turns out that there's nothing, that they lead to nothing. It is, all the same, a way of making the nothing appear in the end - a sort of forceps delivery.
... we're devouring history, this time retrospectively. For so long as it was unfolding, we could retain the illusion of understanding it. Today, it's coming to an end without our knowing why. We're trying, therefore, to revive it, so as to guess its meaning, to 'digest' it.
Nihilism, (which is the forgetting of the nothing) is technically realized.
... the story of a deep-sea creature with a minimal brain, which wanders around for a long time before finding a spot to which to affix itself. As soon as it's found one, it survives by devouring itself. And what it devours first is its own brain. this modicum of gray matter that served only to help it find its place is no longer needed, so it devours it. I wonder whether the human race isn't following the same course.
Endowed with a superior intelligence, which has perhaps enabled it to find its own place, the human race is devouring it. It's using its brain as an operational mechanism to the point of sacrificing it to artificial intelligence. There it is in its fixed spot. The operation's over. It's come to its end. And so it devours its own thought, that function that has now become useless. The species, having arrived at its ends, gives up on itself and its own specificity.
Q. Does a universe expurgated of its shadow (and its death) exert an absolute fascination? As Heraclitus said: "How will one hide from that which never sets"?
Baudrillard (roman) and Enrique Valiente Noailles (italics), Exiles from Dialogue