A Note on Calila e Dimna, Part Two.

The second part of Calila e Dimna no longer stages the dialogue between the two jackals.  It is probably an addition to the original text. And it is interesting that, always within the conventions of the mirror of princes genre, where a philosopher advises the king on how to act, the first chapter of the second part focuses on politics, at least apparently, where the rest of the chapters are clearly infrapolitical in intent: they propose no ethics, they offer nothing about political action, they dismiss rhetoric, but they concentrate on practical life and how best to live it. 

That first chapter of the second part refers to a war between crows and owls after the crows have been defeated.  The crows must deliberate on how to deal with the winning enemy.  They determine five possible positions:  fleeing, continuing the fight, negotiating, partially submitting, or pretending to submit while setting up a devious and fundamental trap that would enable them to destroy the owls.  The last and cleverest one of the murder of crows advising the king of crows suggests the latter option, and then becomes a sort of undercover agent in the realm of the owls until he succeeds in having them all killed.  Good for the last crow. 

But I came to understand that I myself am not interested in any of the last three options: negotiating with the winning enemy, partially submitting to them, or pretending to submit for the sake of a secret plan to be enacted.  All of it is boring, time consuming, and uncertain.   So for me, fighting and then, upon losing, fleeing, in the sense of leaving, abandoning the fight, are the only real options.   And then I thought that the first two options are the properly nonpolitical options.

One fights in order to keep doing what one wants to do, or one escapes in order to salvage whatever may be salvaged.  The infrapolitical interest here is not an interest in power, even in the diluted form that comes from participating, whether through negotiation, partial submission, or even secret subversion, in a hegemonic regime. 

So my thesis here is that anarchy, that is, the an-archic dimension of action, is totally contained within the first two options.  Refusal or passive resistance are forms of fleeing.  Continuing to do what one wants to do is a form of fighting.  The rest is politics, which is a diversion posited on an archic drive. 

The crows succeed–they annihilate the owls.  Deprived of an enemy, they will have to look for an alternative enemy to sustain their archic drive.  I doubt they would find an enabling peace.  The notion of coming to terms with one’s ventura, presented as the sovereign wisdom in the chapter before last, cannot be realized under those conditions. 

Ventura–is there a better term for the translation of the Heideggerian Ereignis?–can only be released into its own in the ad-venture of fighting and fleeing. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s