thirty-ninth part, called “subjective powers XXXIX,” of a series of ‘letters’ written to you, the reader, towards a book called, theatre | writing

subjective powers

We have trespassed on the divide between static genesis and dynamic, but what is dynamic here is not action. In choosing for an action we are choosing for something cut off from consequence. In choosing to step out onto the void, a beginning actor, fearing the institution, steps right into a place where he has no agency. He is divested of it… and we have to ask what plays in the theatres of bureaucracy and in government institutions? Is it really capital that dehumanises? or the impersonal operations of the law?

And by dehumanisation we mean that it is directed to human being as a stage or surface bereft of humans. What other creatures are welcome there? because it is there that we form political and legal subjects. We might look again at the question that seemed to crop up out of nowhere: What is happening in the time of being reported on?

Subjection there, in the Castle or the Trial, as these are appropriated to the understanding of the Kafkaesque, consists of having to make a report. And in current symbolic regimes, having to produce the data of which one is the datum. To report for oneself on oneself: the subject, however, as it is understood, is already spoken for in these apparati of power.

What is truly Kafkaesque is the impotence before the infliction of the law, the nonsensical nature of the task of the confession. Or of giving any account in these circumstances, and claiming it for oneself, as one’s right to speak. One’s right to being (fairly) represented.

Then, isn’t the demand the subjection, of having to produce the goods? knowing that the only story to be told is the one that plays. That will play before the judge or in the council chambers. It has been known for some time that the right of the individual is stitched on like a star or triangle, for which she has, for her sins, to join with in submitting her identity. Winning it no less! Celebrating the win.

The individual is there like the selfish actor, claiming her victory over the stage, while underneath, a void. What happens in the time of being reported on can be like this. Or like that other movement, that, having trespassed on the divide between static and dynamic genesis, by which a subject outstrips its fate. Does not cheat it. But in her decisiveness, having already taken her decision, is all reason. And with what is reasonable we are not butting up against those negative qualities associated with the Kafkaesque, our submission to the law of the father and the Law, in our impotence, our anorexic feebleness, our erotic failure, but grow closer to Kafka.

We choose for the movement that is reason, that for us is reasonable because it shifts the ground. Mobilises the surface. And possesses the nobility of claiming the irrationality of that choice for our own reason. Claiming this time is giving our report, like the ape in Kafka, to the academy, representative of both science and reason: that is, knowledge and history.

And yet, we recently spoke of knowledge from Bergson’s perspective. Here, perception serves action; it does not serve knowledge. Perception selects for that which serves action, in pursuing our interests, needs and the demands of our bodies.

Perception is in the world and in the matters of the world from which we make our selection. The selection does not grant us knowledge, but singles out that which we pursue. And should we pause in our pursuit, constructing from it the gateway where we must choose, we don’t have the freedom of our choice. As in Kafka, there is only one door meant for us. We have this block of duration. A freedom of contemplation, from which, knowledge, as being what plays before us.

note: source references available on request–these will be part of the book, if it should come to pass.

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