Non-Catastrophic Practice of Non-Knowledge. By Alberto Moreiras.

If there exists something we should call infrapolitics beyond the critical text, in other words, if infrapolitics belongs in the real and is not merely a hermeneutic notion, simply a way in which we have imagined we could refer to certain phenomena that cannot be captured by any proper ethico-political understanding, we might want to assume that it invests a region of experience that must more or less overlap with the political region.   Infrapolitics would be below politics, or beyond politics, it would have consequences for politics, but it would be a bit, perhaps, like a double of politics, like politics´s shadow.   In a similar way, it would determine or inhabit habit itself, the original ethos, and it would be co-presential with ethics, while being ethics’ other side, ethics’s double, or the shadow of ethics.   And all of this is possible, and possibly productive: infrapolitical thought aims at investigating the obverse of the ethico-political relation, what the ethico-political relation leaves behind in every case.   We could remember Heidegger’s mention of the “invisible shadow” that falls upon everything once the human can only be considered a subject and the world can only be perceived in the mode of image.   Infrapolitics can only be the region of the invisible shadow. And infrapolitical thought would then be a theoretical practice in and of the shadow, a thinking of the withdrawal or in the withdrawal of the ethico-political relation.

But this very difference between infrapolitics as region and infrapolitics as theoretical practice raises many questions that may complicate the mapping. If infrapolitics obtains in the wake of the withdrawal of the ethico-political relation, we could ask whether the ethico-political relation is not in the first place an imaginary imposition on the immense and intractable real whose withdrawal opens up a region of experience that vastly exceeds mere obversity; if it is an “other side” it would be like the other side of the iceberg; if it is what the shadow guards or protects, and first of all from language, it could be an unimaginable and unprocessable monster.

So, infrapolitical practice would run the risk of dwelling on a nothingness, of setting its sights on a region that must by definition be excluded from capture, from any capture, also, therefore, from capture by the infrapolitical gaze.   Infrapolitical practice would have become a nice promise, thank you very much, but an unfulfillable one. Or only to be fulfilled in the form of catastrophe.

This is like Nietzsche’s Grenzpunkte: one can gaze into the abyss, but one would not like to fall into it.

So, why would one want to run that risk? First of all, because it is there, and because notice has been received of a facticity that cannot be merely wished away by the beautiful soul’s emphasis on handling only that which can be securely handled. If the totality of our language means to express, with a moderate degree of difficulty, only those phenomena that can be linked to the ethico-political relation, and if that is what our tradition calls knowledge, well then, there is a certain amount of hard-headedness, even of idiocy, in insisting that non-knowledge also beckons, and that it is not just interpreting the world but also transforming it that is at stake in the bid to move beyond more or less secure knowledge.

Who would want to do it?   Who is the subject of infrapolitical practice?   Perhaps a specific libidinal cathexis is required here.   It is not a practice for those whose secure essence precedes them. It is a practice of existence, a form of excess beyond discourse, an ongoing demetaphorization of existence for the sake of something that might always elude.   But how can it elude if it is at the same time always already there?

A Thesis on Culture/Politics. By Alberto Moreiras.

It is no doubt not only arrogant but also silly to state that culture does not exist, or that politics are useless, even if or particularly if we provide a suitable and encompassing definition of what it is we want to do without, which is not easy of course.  Culture and politics are master concepts, whether we like it or not, and one cannot leave them behind without giving up on language and history both.  However, I have insisted and will continue to insist on the fact that without a critical destruction (a destructive critique?) of both concepts, after which we’ll have to see what might be left over, the project of infrapolitics, or even of its associated term, posthegemony, will not take off, will be hampered at the very basic level of articulation.   A few years ago I called this predicament the “cultural-political closure”–as the horizon of thought, which is as ideological as any other horizon of thought, and there is nothing natural about it.  No doubt my thinking was as insufficient and incoherent then as it is today.  But I’d like, nevertheless, in a tentative and risky way, to put forth the idea that the cultural-political closure is as pernicious yet constitutive for our world as political theology was for the 19th century.

Infrapolitical Action: The Truth of Democracy at the End of General Equivalence. By Alberto Moreiras.

“Infrapolitical Action: The Truth of Democracy at the End of General Equivalence”

I. Extroduction

Jean-Luc Nancy refers to general equivalence, in his short book La communauté affrontée (2001), a bit counterintuitively: “What arrives to us is an exhaustion of the thought of the One and of a unique destination of the world: it exhausts itself in a unique absence of destination, in an unlimited expansion of the principle of general equivalence, or rather, by counterblow, in the violent convulsions that reaffirm the all-powerfulness and all-presentiality of a One that has become, or has again become, its own monstrosity” (12). Only a few pages later he speaks about the increasing “inequality of the world to itself,” which produces a growing impossibility for it to endow itself with “sense, value, or truth.” The world thus precipitously drops into “a general equivalence that progressively becomes civilization as a work of death;” “And there is no other form in the horizon, either new or old” (15). If the loss of value organizes general equivalence, it is the general equivalence of the nothing. Nancy is talking about nihilism in a way that resonates with the end of Martin Heidegger’s essay “The Age of the World Picture,” where Heidegger discusses “the gigantic” as the culmination of modern civilization in order to say that quantitative-representational technology can also produce its own form of greatness. It is at the extreme point of the gigantic that general calculability, or general equivalence, projects an “invisible shadow” of incalculability (“This incalculability becomes the invisible shadow cast over all things when man has become the subiectum and world has become picture” [Heidegger 72)]). Heidegger’s invisible shadow could be compared with Nancy’s hint of “an obscure sense, not a darkened sense but a sense whose element is the obscure” (20). Let me risk the thought that this obscure sense, as the invisible shadow of an undestined world, is for Nancy the wager of a radical abandonment of the neoliberal world-image, a notion that has become commonplace in political discourse today. But we do not know towards what yet—the invisible shadow within nihilism that projects an obscure sense out of nihilism is a political alogon whose function remains subversive, but whose sense remains elusive.

In The Truth of Democracy (2008) Nancy says that, in 1968, “something in history was about to overcome, overflow, or derail” the principal course of the political struggles of the period (15). This statement is probably not meant to be understood as springing from any kind of empirical analysis. Rather, the book makes clear that “something in history” is precisely the truth of history, understood as the epochal truth of history along classically Heideggerian lines (“Metaphysics grounds an age in that, through a particular interpretation of beings and through a particular comprehension of truth, it provides that age with the ground of its essential shape. This ground comprehensively governs all decisions distinctive of the age” [Heidegger, “Age” 57). There was a truth that the Europeans, for instance, could only obscurely perceive under the veil of a “deception,” and such a truth is, for Nancy, the truth of democracy that titles his book. My contention is that Nancy’s insistence on that truth of history, or truth of democracy, preserves a Hegelian-Kojèvian position that Nancy proceeds to overdetermine from a critique of nihilism. In other words, for Nancy, a truth of history was about to overcome and derail the main course of political struggles from the left in 1968, and it was the event of true democracy, only accessible on the basis of an opening to an epochal mutation of thought whose necessary condition would have been, would be, the renunciation of the principle of the general equivalence of things, infrastructurally represented by the Marxian Gemeinwesen, money, as the unity of value and as generic unity of valuation. The truth withdrawn under the veil of disappointment is the possibility of overcoming the nihilism of equivalence. Such is the modification Nancy imposes on the Kojévian thematics of the end of history, which now becomes understandable as the history of nihilism. Against it Nancy wants to offer a new metaphysics of democracy. Nancy’s understanding of democracy coincides with his “obscure sense” of the incalculable. In this essay, I will try to explain it, first, and then raise a question at the end.

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