“ I am among those few people who have constantly drawn attention to this: you must (and you must do it well) put philosophers’ biographies back in the picture, and the commitments, particularly political commitments, that they sign in their own names, whether in relation to Heidegger or equally to Hegel, Freud, Nietzsche, Sartre, or Blanchot, and so on.
“ All of which leads to the conclusion that it is not impossible for a man to sleep with a woman knowing full well that he is to be bumped off on his way out, by the gallows or anything else (all this, of course, is located under the rubric of passionate excesses, a rubric that raises a lot of other questions); it is not impossible that this man coolly accepts such an eventuality on his leaving - for the pleasure of cutting up the lady concerned in small pieces, for example.
“ We have never stopped repeating that the interiorization of the Law has nothing to do with the Law. Although we still need to know why. It is possible that the superego serves as a support for the moral conscience, but everyone knows that it has nothing to do with the moral conscience as far as its most obligatory demands are concerned. What the superego demands is nothing to do with that which we would be right in making the universal rule of our actions; such is the ABC of psychoanalytic truth.
“ During an unfortunate debate I had with Bernard-Henri Lévy (in the premises of Le Nouvel Observateur in Paris), he related (what maybe was, or not) a personal experience to illustrate his opposition to killing. During the Bosnian war in the early 1990s, he had visited the besieged Sarajevo, where he was taken to a frontline trench by an officer of the Bosnian government. From here, looking through the scope of a gun, he was able to see a Serb soldier on a nearby hill occasionally shooting at civilians in the city. Looking at the soldier with his finger on the trigger, Lévy was tempted to shoot, but he resisted—the injunction “Do not kill!” is for him unconditional. To me, such a reaction was moralistic hypocrisy at its purest: Lévy fully supported the Bosnian side in the conflict (as did I, so there was no disagreement there), but his refusal to take the shot meant that, while he would have expected a Bosnian soldier in the same position to pull the trigger, he wanted to keep his hands clean and leave the necessary dirty work to others. In the face of such a dilemma, the only truly universalistic stance is to be ready to dirty one’s own hands.
“ This is where I stand-how I would love to be: an ethical monster without empathy, doing what is to be done in a weird coincidence of blind spontaneity and reflexive distance, helping others while avoiding their disgusting proximity. With more people like this, the world would be a pleasant place in which sentimentality would be replaced by a cold and cruel passion.
The ruin had always abused women, in the Kantian sense. It used them as a means to an end, and the end was ruin of the soul.
On one occasion they were wasted on LSD at a fairground, in some type of spinning machine. The operator called out: “You’re all going to die.” Later, back indoors, they plunged deeper into polydrug abuse…She could not deny what had happened, but hated it. That was the beginning of the end, although she went along with far, far more.
“ We all dreamed, at bottom, of arriving at an equally vulgar reading of Capital as of the Bible, that of the ‘anthropomorphists’.
We had the desire of a sovereign amnesia. Their fury to destroy the temples, to profane the pagan tombs in order to sell off the marble to the lime traffickers-all this was the same amnesia. We would had have burned down the National Library in order to suffer as needed…
We wanted humility; the saint, with his status of abjection, of refuse, of waste, with which the intellectual felt in agreement, that is what we were aiming for…
And it was only normal that, wanting to break with all philosophy of survival, with that ‘conatus’ that classical meditation puts in the place we know, we would meet up with Christian detachment: contempt for all things, oblivion of parents and horror of the world itself; Normal, too, that the most aberrant forms of the destruction of the body and the exhaustion of its desires would reappear. We say the resurgence of a craze for fasting, a dementia for wakefulness. And, filled with marvel. we understood that we were no longer in fear of death.
“ In opposition to the “optimism” expressed by any kind of “naturalist” eudaimonistic ethics, especially Aristotle’s, which ultimately associates the Sovereign Good with happiness and pleasure, the inevitable demand for happiness all subjects express clashes with the fact that “absolutely nothing is prepared for [happiness], either in the macrocosm or the microcosm.”
This Freudian premise has profound consequences for all three terms of the Aristotelian equation: pleasure, happiness, and the Sovereign Good. First of all, extreme pleasure is dissociated from happiness, since it is “unbearable” for us; happiness (as “moderated” pleasure) is not a biological given for man but some- thing which should be located on the side of symbolic fictions: it requires a “lowering of tone of what is properly speaking the energy of pleasure.” In accordance with point 1 above, this “tempering”—provided by the law—is also what is needed to “move towards reality” as opposed to the primordial Real of a supposedly pure jouissance: in other words, the Real of das Ding is the “support of an aversion” inasmuch as it is “an object which literally gives too much pleasure,” painful jouissance.
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