RJF is about Bacon and soap

Evasiveness. It’s a word that comes up early on in Norman Manea’s The Hooligan’s Return, with a special emphasis, in association with the work of Sebastian. (Strange how my favourite European writers hail from the Bukovina, portless, though it is: Paul Celan, for whom the place belongs to men and books; Gregor von Rezzori, for whom it is the Babel of a biblical mingling of races and cultures; and Norman Manea, for whom it is the source of a certain voluptuous evasiveness – to conflate the three, the clowned capital of a cultural carcinoma.) You can almost taste the word, like water clouded with the current of a contemporary antisemitism, like spring water coloured by the deep geological rifts in post-imperial Europe, post-WWI, pre-WWII: you can feel on your tongue the effervescence added by the Cassandras, Norman Manea’s uncle Ariel being one, the sparkle of gun-metal; and you can almost taste the sweetening of the assimilationists, Sebastian, in Manea’s account, being one.

Evasiveness is not complexity. It’s not irony. It’s not the legendary Jewish humour. It’s engaged in the very thing it pretends to have no truck with. It’s an embattled category, a category of the embattled. (Strange how rightly Manuel DeLanda characterises Gilles Deleuze’s philosophical affirmations as first avoidances of the essentialist image of thought, then of the typological image of thought, in Virtual Science and Intensive Philosophy when Deleuze admits as much, where he writes that all philosophy begins with a misosophy; strange because the admission of being embattled is generally treated to a thoroughgoing evasiveness, in which, unto the non-state sponsored philosopher – Spinoza, Nietzsche, Bergson – is rendered what is his, a virtual, pyrrhic victory, whose being rests in the matter of a becoming without history, whatever victory has already been claimed, actually and in time.) You can hear the anglo- translators – and funnily enough, Hugh Tomlinson, of Deleuze and Guattari – you can hear their efforts to cloud the franco- readings of anglo- writers with evasiveness; the anglo-american pragmatists, like Emmerson and Whitehead, come out rather evasive than mistranslated. Even in David Hume, you can hear the self-satire realised, actualised, in its francophone colouration, a pre-audition of Malcolm Bradbury’s joyless lampoon of continental theoretisation, and of titles like How Mumbo-Jumbo Came to Dominate the World. Evasiveness finds its alter-ego in political and cultural correctness, its molar resistance.

The loss of a common western-world symbolic frame-of-reference has been mourned since the imperial idea was invented. Its plenitude might even have been precipitated by its impending lack. George Frazer’s Golden Bough we know as an action claiming the edges, folding them in, an act of evasiveness. We know the efforts to define the cosmetic and pharmaceutical edge of consciousness as the same kind of act-in-defiance, as an act-of-nostalgia. Consciousness was lost at the time that its other was invented. Face was lost at the time or preceding the time at which face came about. It had to be, it had to be saved.

In trying to make work that is engaged, I find myself making work that is evasive. Where am I? Local, specific. The best problem, and the best concept, is that which is true to, and true of, the one thing, first and last, Adamic and eschatalogical. Differentiation as the rule of life, we can locate in this evasiveness. But where it comes from or where it’s headed, ultimately, no: in the middle, there is evasiveness.