To make a point out of disappointment

«Peço que não faça como a gente vulgar, que é sempre reles (…)»

Fernando Pessoa, carta a Ophélia Queiroz, 29 Nov. 1920.


«Wo ist noch ein M[ensch] den man verehren* könnte! Aber ich kenne Euch Alle durch und durch.»

[Where there is still a human being that one can honour? But I know you all through and through!]

– Friedrich Nietzsche, fragment of a letter to Lou von Salomé and Paul Rée, Rapallo, around December 20, 1882.

* VEREHREN – German “ver” (prefix which denotes “increase”) + “Ehre” (honour).


«Death in life. There are people who are dead in life. And that’s the only death, that’s the real death. Not this death when you depart (…), but being dead when you’re alive, that’s real death, I think. (…) The most important thing about it is: he cannot adapt to this world and he should not adapt to it, since it is a bad world. There are two ways of looking at that: either you destroy this world – lock, stock and barrel – or you adjust to it in a way that you are detached from it. (…) I’ve always been interested in the occult, because I’ve never been able to accept this world. I know that there is another world behind it, that is the real world.»

Henry Miller, “The Henry Miller Odyssey” (1969).


Combat narrow-mindedness

«There would, I think, be justification in the publication of this book if it made a significant contribution to overcoming the absurd divisions that still exist between – to use the customary but equally absurd labels – ‘analytic’ and ‘continental’ philosophy. I do not deny that there are important differences between these. Nor do I have any scruples about the fact that I am an analytic philosopher. But I unequivocally distance myself from those of my colleagues who disdain all other traditions. The ‘continental’ philosophers whom I discuss in Part Three of this book are thinkers of great depth and power; they are knowledgeable about philosophy, science, politics, and the arts; their work is rigorous, imaginative, and creative; and it is often brutally honest. I despair of the arrogance that casts them in the role of charlatans. Perhaps, if I were asked to specify my greatest hope for this book, it would be that it should help to combat such narrow-mindedness. Or, if that seemd too vague a hope, then it would be that the book should help to introduce analytic philosophers to the work of one of the most exciting and extraordinay of these ‘continental’ philosophers: Gilles Deleuze.»

Adrian W. Moore, preface (p. XX) from The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics, Cambridge, 2011.

As ilhas afortunadas

Que voz vem no som das ondas
Que não é a voz do mar?
É a voz de alguém que nos fala,
Mas que, se escutamos, cala,
Por ter havido escutar.

E só se, meio dormindo,
Sem saber de ouvir ouvimos,
Que ela nos diz a esperança
A que, como uma criança
Dormente, a dormir sorrimos.

São ilhas afortunadas,
São terras sem ter lugar,
Onde o Rei mora esperando.
Mas, se vamos despertando,
Cala a voz, e há só o mar.

– Fernando Pessoa, “Mensagem”, 3ª parte: O encoberto, I – Os símbolos, Quarto: As ilhas afortunadas.

Pour détruire les formes circulaires du sujet

This 15-minute footage is from a one-hour long interview that was conducted by the Dutch philosopher Fons Elders in preparation for the debate between Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault, which was broadcasted on Dutch television on Sunday, Nov. 28, 1971. The whole interview was essentially lost for decades and was published in the winter of 2012 for the first time.

At the time of the interview Foucault held a chair self-titled “History of Systems of Thought” at the prestigious Collège de France. The exchange between Elders and Foucault, however, took place in Foucault’s apartment in Paris on Rue de Vaugirard on Monday, Sept. 13, 1971. The video was subsequently kept in the archives of a Dutch TV building which unfortunately burned. As a result, the fifteen minutes shown here is all that is left of the full interview footage. Thankfully, before burning, the whole interview had been professionally hand transcribed from the original French, and the rights had kindly been given over to Elders by Foucault himself at the time of the interview.

As might be noticeable to viewers, the Foucault “profile” presented here is a montage that puts together several parts of the whole interview. As such, it does not fully follow the original interview chronologically, putting together parts that work but which are not faithful to the natural flow of the live interview. To show wherever such interruptions to have taken place, ellipses were included (“…”) in the subtitles. For an unaltered flow of the interview, check out the book “Freedom and Knowledge”, edited by Elders.

«Je ne souhaite pas qu’au cours de l’émission télévisée que vous voulez bien me consacrer, une place soit faite à des données biographiques. Je considère en effet qu’elles sont sans importance pour le sujet traité.»

C’est cet encart, tapé à la machine, qui introduit cette interview, quasiment inédite, de Michel Foucault.

[2:50] Society’s rationalization

[3:40] Knowledge as exclusion

[4:40] “The universalité de notre savoir a était acquis au prix des exclusions”

[5:20] Archaeology of knowledge

[7:00] Structuralism

[9:10] Systems of relations, structuralistm, questioning of the sovereignty of the subject, drug experience

[11:20] Personal life, the expression of individuality, humanism as imprisonment of man controlled by the sovereignty of the subject

[14:00] “Je ne dis pas les choses parce que je les pense. Je dis les choses pour ne plus les penser”

[14:25] “Je ne crois pas, si vous voulez, aux vertus de l’expression. La langage qui m’ intéresse c’est celui qui peut détruire justement toutes les formes circulaires, closes, narcissiques, du sujet” = “disparition de l’homme”, “Cette figure est en train de disparaître”

Le tunnel du Saint-Gothard

«[9 janvier 1889] Alors que le chemin de fer traverse le tunnel du Saint-Gothard, Nietzsche se met alors à fredonner “un chant merveilleux, d’une mélodie vraiment étrange”, qui n’est autre qu’un de ses derniers poèmes, intitulé “Venise”…»

in Frédéric Pajak, “L’immense solitude – avec Friedrich Nietzsche et Cesare Pavese, orphelins sous le ciel de Turin”, Lausanne: Éditions Noir sur Blanc, 2011, p. 210.