Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pierre Klossowski, Such a Deathly Desire

One finds, in Zarathustra’s incantation, something like an appeal to an insurrection of images—those images that the human soul is able to form, in its phantasms, from its own obscure forces. These phantasms testify to the soul’s aptitude for an always-inexhaustible metamorphosis, its need for an unappeasable and universal investment, in which various diverse extrahuman forms of existence are offered to the soul as so many possibilities of being—stone, plant, animal, star—but precisely insofar as the would always be possibilities for the life of the soul itself. This aptitude for metamorphosis (which, under the regime of an exclusive normative principle, is one of the major temptations that man has had to struggle against for millenia in order to conquer and define himself) has not itself contributed to the eliminatory formation that had to lead to man. The proof of this can be found in the delimitation of the divine and the human, and in that admirable compensation by which man—to the extent that he renounces bestiality, vegetality, and minerality, and hierarchizes his desires and passions according to always-variable criteria—reveals within himself an analogous hierarchy in regions that are supra- or infraworldly. The universe is populated by many divinities, by various divinities of both sexes, and thus divinities that are capable of pursuing, fleeing from, and uniting with each other. 


  1. The small nouns
    Crying faith
    In this in which the wild deer
    Startle, and stare out.

    —George Oppen

  2. JR, “Post-Face to the 15 Variations,” 15 Flower World Variations:

    For the last three years (81/81/83) I was witness to Deer Dances at New Pascua Pueblo in Tuscon, Arizona—not a spooky other-worldliness, as Casteneda would have it, but the enactment, through religion & art, of high & brilliant worlds one step outside-the-human. For these Yaquis have their own names: huya aniya = enchanted world; or seyawailo = flower world; or, in the language of some of the younger inheritors, “wilderness” as such. The dance (set against the parodistic Pascola Clowns as alternative flower world beings) is tight & classical & contained (always) within the narrow space allotted to the dancer. (Contrast, e.g., the Nijinskian capers of the trumped-up Deer Dancer in Mexico’s urban Ballet Folklorico, etc.) It is a wonder to see & to dream back into one’s own language. But the dance, of course, has its language as well, the words of the accompanying songs; & these, as translation opens them to us, become the principle means for bringing that flower world to life. The process, then, is one of singing & stating, re-singing & re-stating, into a new wilderness “in which,” as our old friend George Oppen has it, “the wild deer/startle, and stare out.”

  3. Allen S. Weiss, "The Limits of the Phantasmatic," (1990): "These difficult texts disclose the central passions behind Klossowski's thought, where theological drama intersects philosophical perversion, and private erotic phantasms collide with mythical exigencies. In *Diana at her Bath*, the theophany of the goddess Diana is explained in terms of the consequences of Actaeon's theological affront: his hubris is the condition for the goddess' own self-reflection. Yet perhaps the true protagonist of this drama is that daemon who serves as the intermediary between goddess and man, the daemon who "becomes Actaeon's imagination and Diana's mirror." For in this dialectic between the mortal and the divine -- two mutually incompatible realms -- a third term is necessary to create the impossible desire at the core of this myth. Actaeon's gaze -- the daemon's trick -- is the condition by which Diana's chastity can be experienced as an accident of the body, and thus become eroticized, an object of desire. Actaeon's tragic fate -- transformation into the prey of the huntress, in perfect ironic symmetry with Actaeon's own visual stalking of Diana -- is none other than that of all other humans before the might of the gods: an emblematic death."