dramatis personae for an island narrative: pornography of the human condition 1

Who would they be these characters asked for in the post below, an island narrative, if not exactly those projections who are not projections of ourselves? as Robert David MacDonald has Diaghilev say in Chinchilla, Seen as they should be seen, under arc-lamps; objects of a desire they master out of time: Diaghilev again, Without whom my life is as dry as a nut; who if not those for whom one writes? those to whom the future belongs to which one writes (as in Ariel Dorfmann’s Some Write to the Future)? or who, as Gilles Deleuze says, are the people yet to come?

Does this writing to the future not include a kind of literary critique? such that, after Ariel Dorfmann, testimonial literature – as opposed to the testimonia of a classical literature – may be considered to be just in time? Think of how I spent last year wearing the burkah and then wrote about it; how I elevated therapy to the art of self-expression; how I bore witness to the regime and how in my body it was borne witness to so that like so many suspended scars the significations of the historical ordeal could be zapped to you – like 964 days of torture, sleep deprived, beaten, kicked, my scrotum stamped and hogtied, suspended upside down, the soles of my feet and my scrotum were punished with a rattan cane; think of the manifold degradations to which the human animal submits another and the diversity of ways in which it can tell of it. We are in time to hear in order to do just what? No. It is just in time.

Paul Virilio asseverates that it is speed that is at issue in the transaction, speed which is of the essence, fast turning communication into interaction, and speed which victimises, making us the transhuman recipients of a transhuman inhumanity. Jacques Lacan, channelled by Slavoj Zizek, might say that it is the Real itself, the Unconscious, which is inhuman. But there is an inhumanity that comes out of the representation of the inhuman as representable – remember Paul Celan’s sensitivity to Theodor Adorno’s false ultimatum of Auschwitz as the limit to poetry – as much as there is an inhumanity of that which is all too human, sex say, or generalise porn into the very facticity of the human condition as represented …

Paul Virilio might be right in also stating that pathos is missing from modern art. But he is letting alone the question of the ‘let alone art’. Romance endures in the notion that terrible things happen to people who present terrible things; but as if the art necessary to describe those terrible things were the ‘in itself’ of art itself: so that de Sade might suddenly appear as the dark precursor to a post-Enlightenment fashionability of the self-event per se as one of having had to have lived / murdered / or been crucified not in order to record and bear witness or testimony but so as to do so in time – to take pictures. Remember that the comedy that the tragedy of history starts out being is first of all on the stage. On a raised board.

What it is necessarily raised above in the Morality is hell. Hell itself. Specifically as comedy. After all, Beelzebub performs a comic turn. The analogon of the theatre can never be far away as the fighting-place of Platonism. Illusions? Or the blasted heath? Caveat emptor.

The man or woman who instantiates this dancing on the wall that separates fake from real inevitably finds him/herself if not a person of the theatre then a player in a theatre of which he/she remains only partially in control and only liminally conscious: an actor, an actress. For example, the pas de deux or dialogue, or even conversation, between Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, which resulted in works of their time because in their time, plays, allegories, like Anti-Oedipus, A Thousand Plateaux. Exactly the drama of these works is that to which they bear testimony. (If Jean-Paul Sartre were read through the dramatis personae in his plays! the masks in his self-anointment as a man of the theatre, the masks of his minimal autobiography! Existentialism is a concept produced by the confrontation of what it is to be a man of the theatre who writes philosophy.)

Simonides could not have imagined the imaginative zeal with which imagination has been appropriated to representation – and let alone its commodification – when he wrote that the word is the picture of things and with this poem encoded literary criticism with its instaurating virus or when he installed in literature this backdoor through which philosophy and the philosopher was bound to enter. In order, in short, to become a player and just in time.

In time it is then that the play transpires, and the actors with it, over minutes, an hour, hours, a day, a night, a countdown until the members of the company seek further enfranchisement, until the ensemble or assemblage anatomatises. The transient attracts the lasting just as the visible attracts the invisible. And these syllogistic couples, like the twins in Shakespeare, fulfil an arc that cannot return that cannot be seen, and, withal, cannot be seen to be returning, for appearances’ sake. But, as if mere appearance doubled its opposite, and under the notorious, the illusory aspect of the unlived, the lived, its gods, could be satisfied …