Everything must have been once. That’s why life seems to me like a ghostly undulation. History does not repeat itself; yet it seems as if our lives are caught in the reflections of a past world, whose delayed echoes we prolong. Memory is an argument not only against time but also against this world. It half uncovers the probable worlds of the past, crowning them with a vision of paradise. Regrets spring from the nadir of memory.
If folly leads each man into a blindness where he is lost, the madman, on the contrary, reminds each man of his truth; in a comedy where each man deceives the other and dupes himself, the madman is comedy to the second degree: the deception of deception; he utters, in his simpleton’s language which makes no show of reason, the words of reason that release, in the comic, the comedy: he speaks love to lovers, the truth of life to the young, the middling reality of things to the proud, to the insolent, and the liars.
But when the madman laughs, he already laughs with the laugh of death; the lunatic, anticipating the macabre, has disarmed it.
Look around you. Everyone seems to have one foot in the air. One would think that we are all in transit. No one has a fixed sphere of existence; there are no proper habits, no rules that govern anything. We do not even have homes; there is nothing to tie us down, nothing that arouses our sympathies and affections, nothing enduring, nothing lasting. Everything passes, flows away, leaving no trace either outside or within us. In our homes, we are like guests; to our families, we are like strangers; and in our cities we seem like nomads, more so than those who wander our steppes, for they are more attached to their deserts than we are to our towns…
All light has passed over into the thin flame of the eye, which now flickers around solid objects and, in so doing, establishes their place and form. Rational discourse is based less on the geometry of light than on the insistent, impenetrable density of the object, for prior to all knowledge, the source, the domain, and the boundaries of experience can be found in its dark presence.
Paul Klee, Southern (Tunisian) Gardens, 1919 (private collection).
Maurice Merleau-Ponty writes:Color is the “place where our brain and the universe meet,” [Cezanne] says in that admirable idiom of the artisan of Being which Klee liked to quote. It is for the sake of color that we must break up the form qua spectacle. Thus the question is not of colors, “simulacra of the colors of nature.” The question, rather, concerns the dimension of color, that dimension which creates—from itself to itself—identities, differences, a texture, a materiality, a something…
Everything flows and nothing abides; everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.
You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters and yet others, go flowing on.
Time is a child, moving counters in a game; the royal power is a child’s.
Fou n’y puis,
sain n’y daigne,
névrosé je suis.
2. The philosopher assumes the voice of the master. Philosophers are not, nor can they be, modest participants in team work, laborious instructors of a closed history, democrats given over to public debates. Their word is authoritarian, as seductive as it is violent, committing others to follow suit, disturbing and converting them. Philosophers are present, as such, in what they state; even if this presence is also that of an exemplary submission, they do not subtract themselves form the duty of reason.
Antiphilosophers, for their part, have an absolutely singular way of placing themselves vis-a-vis these two points. They claim to be contemporaries not only of the truths that proceed in their time but they also make their own life the theater of their ideas, and their body the place of the absolute. This is true from Pascal, “joy, joy, joy, tears of joy,” to Nietzsche, “I am…something decisive and doom-laden standing between two millennia.” From Rousseau, “I have resolved on an enterprise which has no precedent, and which, once complete, will have no imitator,” to Lacan, “I hereby found…by myself, as alone as I have always been…” From Kierkegaard, “I have nothing but my life, and I am happy to put it at risk whenever a difficulty arises.”
οὐ ξυνιᾶσιν ὅκως διαφερόµενον ἑωυτῷ
παλίντροπος ἁρµονίη ὅκωσπερ τόξου καὶ λύρης.