Palimpsest

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One jewellers evaporates to leave behind the residue of an earlier one.

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The Readerly: ‘a certain bravery’.

“In other words, the discourse scrupulously keeps within a circle of solidarities, and this circle, in which “everything holds together”, is that of the readerly. As we might expect, the readerly is controlled by the principle of non-contradiction, but by multiplying solidarities, by stressing at every opportunity the compatible nature of circumstances, by attaching narrated events together with a kind of logical “paste”, the discourse carries this principle to the point of obsession: it assumes the careful and suspicious mien of an individual afraid of being caught in some flagrant contradiction; it is always on the look-out and always, just in case, preparing it defense against the enemy that may force it to acknowledge the scandal of some illogicality, some disturbance of “common sense”. The solidarity of notations thus appears to be a kind of defensive weapon, it says in its way that meaning is a force, that it is devised within an economy of forces.” From Barthes S/Z LXVI The Readerly I: “Evertything Holds Together”

Barthes captures the point of the rhetorics of non-contradiction that discourses adhere to quite clearly. In order for the discourse to succeed within the field of social-interaction it is part of it must engage with power (Foucault’s power: action-upon-the-action-of-others) and it must be considered by its readers (its victims) to be one of those things that can and does act in that way. In ordered to be treated in the way it must appear within the magic-circle of the genres. The lesson for the ordered discourses of the disciplines is equally clear. The quest for coherence in a work, the desire for logic, the horror of self-contradiction, and the disciplinary requirements of order in words & writing are not parts of the movement of the will to knowledge but rather an expression of the will to power. Only if we give up on order, coherence and logic. Only if we embraces mess, contradiction, anarchy, and paradox will we begin to move from power to knowledge. ——————

Barthes S/Z XLIV The Historical Character: the Character of the Historical

Barthes directs us to the deliberately limited use of historical persons (i.e. people we take-as having actually existed) in narratives and the way in which this careful limited use of the names of the past “in passing” (“…painted on the scenery, not represented on the stage…”) “equalizes the novel and history … and give(s) the novel the glow of reality, not of glory: they are superlative effects of the real.”

The lesson for History is obvious. So much of the material of the past that we use to study that very past is also structured by ‘the reality effect’ and the names of historical persons are an inherent part of their waft & weave. Moreover, so much of the product of History is bound up in the publication and re-publication of these names of the past that we should be able to see that this structuration of the reality effect is an inherent part of our work too. The problem of this is that we build our effect of scholarly reality out of the effects of reality of the writers of the past. We have copied their simulation, we have ushered in the simularca, we have established the ‘effect of hyperreality’ as a general-order in our discourse.

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“not even the dead will be safe”: Benjamin and the Violence of History

From Benjamin’s Theses on the Philosophy of History, VI

The only writer of history with the gift of setting alight the sparks of hope in the past, is the one who is convinced of this: that not even the dead will be safe from the enemy, if he is victorious. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious.

There is in History a dirty secret: a line of thought on the weaponization of History that was given formal birth by von Treitschke and has not been brought to an end.  On the contary the use of History as Weapon has flourished in a quiet and deliberatly unacknowledged way.  The worship of von Treitschke is occult and lies hidden away behind code words (Cowling or Strauss, Counter-Factualism, Narrative, ‘Our Island Story’, Fact, ‘Material Culture’ [which mean something quite particular in History], etc) but it is present and must be struggled against if History is to become an ethical practice.  We owe this resisitence to the dead and we need it for ourselves.

 

“the same act of violence”

From Barthes S/Z LVI The Tree:

“… for meaning is a force: to name is to subject, and the more generic the nomination, the stronger the subjection.”

Discourse is power (it is an action-upon-the-action-of-others) and that power can be a violence. Discourse is the most projectional of all tools and thus is a weapon. It has both edges: of destruction and construction.

“the same act of violence”

From Barthes S/Z LVI The Tree:

“… for meaning is a force: to name is to subject, and the more generic the nomination, the stronger the subjection.”

Discourse is power (it is an action-upon-the-action-of-others) and that power can be a violence. Discourse is the most projectional of all tools and thus is a weapon. It has both edges: of destruction and construction.

cacography

From Barthes S/Z LVII The Lines of Destination:
“… readerly writing stages a certain “noise”, it is the writing of noise, of impure communication; but this noise is not confused, massive, unnameable; it is a clear noise made up of connections, not superpositions: it is of a distinct “cacography””.

The staging of the polysemous by the text directs us to the anarchy (not chaos) of meaning which is the true state of language and our relations with that anarchy. How do we respond: with a logo-fascism that tidies, straightens, governs, & rules language or by embracing the mess?