Thursday, November 27, 2014

Rerun: Day in which my blog becomes a pew in the chapel of Ivan (orig. 02/18/06)

'Nicknamed Heidi for his boyish, freckled face and stoic demeanor, Ivan was one of the reigning Russian gay porn stars between the year 2002 and 2004. He modeled for most of the top Russian porn sites of that time, appearing in both soft- and hardcore sets. In the typical Ivan porn, he was the mysterious and self-absorbed goody two shoes seduced by a slightly older looking, more experienced friend/ schoolmate/ brother. Porn audiences clamored for his awkward but agreeable demeanor and his ability to mimic virginity while bottoming for extremely well hung tops without batting an eyelash. A complex young man who was uncomfortable with how he'd been pigeonholed, Ivan developed a reputation in the industry for being difficult and eccentric, fighting with webmasters' and fans' expectations by showing up for photo sessions with unexpected and counterproductive image makeovers -- a s&m leather boy, an extravagantly coifed and made up glam rocker, an emaciated Goth, a trashy transvestite. When the popular twink porn website Doggy Boys dropped Ivan from its stable of models in 2003, the outcry from the site's subscribers caused the site to defend itself by publicly airing Ivan's drug habits, his battle with anorexia, his violent outbursts, his having overdosed on heroin during two successive photo shoots. Ivan's career further faltered when he refused to appear in XXX videos, despite lucrative offers from many of the top porn production companies in Russia, Europe, and the US. At the height of his popularity at the age of 22, Ivan suddenly retired from porn with a tantrum-like and expletive filled open letter to the world that was posted on the now defunct porn site in which he claimed his fans' desire for him had burned his brain and heart into "lumps of charcoal" and that if they wanted to fuck him so badly they should come to Russia and do it and "stop staring at me with all your psycho eyes". In late 2004, the Russian porn company Dolphin announced that it had offered Ivan a princely sum to come out of retirement and star in a new video but that he had shown up to work in what they vaguely described as "a physically unappealing state," and they "had done a favor for Ivan's fans" by canceling the production. His current whereabouts are unknown.' -- '06

late 2001

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early 2003

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early 2004



p.s. Hey. Today's rerun, which should be the last one you'll be faced with for a while, goes way, way back. At the time this first appeared, practically every second or third post had a Russian twink porn star somewhere in it. It was a differently abled blog then. Strange. Anyway, I thought I'd harken back there for a day. ** Paul Curran, Hey, Paul! How's it, man? Seriously, get to Iceland at some point. It's something else. So, what's going on? How's the writing? How's holy Tokyo? ** Will C., Hi, Will. Holy shit, man, that was absolutely an intense, weird spate. Jesus. You sound remarkably sound considering. Any pleasure and/or potential subject matter in the library job? Really glad you're back. ** Keaton, Hi. Yeah, I know people feel that way about painting, and it makes almost total sense. It's like cinema in a rectangle or something, right? I don't know. I think maybe I like being made nervous by art? Oh, wow, that's interesting. Comparing painting to boys carcass-posing. That might be the best explanation of painting's staying power I've read. Fauvism is ripe for a comeback maybe. I get what you say about paintings letting you explore them and stuff. Obviously, sculpture, etc. does that too, but it interferes all the time, which I guess I like. Don't know why. Who knows why anything hits the spot. Really nice Paris rhapsody. I totally get it. That atmospheric thing doesn't wear off when you live here. It's weird. Cool, glad you liked the post. Right, paintings, huh, interesting. Is it ... ? It is Thanksgiving. Whoa. Why is it always on a Thursday? So, yeah, I hope you like eating stuff and whatever else this day does to Americans, I can't remember. Oh right, parade. And football games on TV or something. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Yeah, that's why I need to see 'Short Cuts' again and force-forget that it's Carver-based 'cos that expectation around adaptations usually is a bad weight to put on films. ** Tosh Berman, Hi. I was in the Lion Cafe! Cool. Stumbled across it. I think, if I'm remembering right, that his relationship with Balthus was troubled and beset with jealousies and stuff, but that they were close, in contact, and all that. But I'm not swearing to that. PK was definitely one of the first brainy public Sade proponents. His essay, which is one of those Grove Press Sade books, is very, very good, as you probably know. ** Kier, Hi, hi Kier! I think a lot of Americans open their presents on the 24th. My family didn't. I never could understand the night before thing. Opening presents in the morning and then having all day to play with them or whatever always seemed really sensible, at least when my presents were mostly toys. I think the French open theirs on the 24th too? Oh, okay, it's 'set up the tree' night. Yeah, I think we used to set ours up weeks before. It's all so strange. I didn't buy any books because, even though there were a few cool ones -- it was a book sale at the Yvon Lambert Gallery's bookstore -- the place's idea of a sale was to maybe knock a few Euros off, so they were still very pricey. Wow, that show is opening in Stavanger! That's so cool! Don't be nervous! Hometown hero Kier! Yes! Tell me all about the opening when it's time. Yesterday .. oh, yes, Elias wrote back! He suggested that Zac and I meet with him at a bar near the venue between the soundcheck and the show, so that's what we'll do. I'm already nervous. I met with Gisele to go over the theater piece text. Thankfully, she likes it a lot, and I just have to make some some small changes to the detailing today. So, whew. What else. I did some phone conferencing with the guy who is putting together that 'novel' project that I mentioned I hope to get published soon, and that was fruitful. Oh, argh ... Very long story very short: the producers of Zac's and my film are pressuring us to show them some of the finished film, and we're not close to being ready to do that. They suddenly decided about six weeks ago that they 'need' a good chunk of the finished film by December 1st, which is just absolutely not going to happen. Yesterday they wrote asking us to send them one finished scene by last night. Impossible. That led to them kind of ordering us to have a Skype meeting -- they're in Berlin -- with them tonight, so we have to do that, and it is not going to be happy meeting, that's for sure, and quite the contrary, so, gulp, ugh. That happened. Otherwise, I just did some work on stuff. I guess tomorrow I can tell you how cooked Zac's and my gooses are, as colorful Americans of an earlier generation used to phrase it. And how did Friday handle your life? Tell me please. ** Gregoryedwin, Hi, man! Yeah, the blog's olden days, weird. Oh, you should so totally go to Iceland. And spend time there, get out of Reykjavik as much as you can, try to drive all the way around the country's perimeter if you at all can. That's the way to see it. Cool, I'll go get your email, and thank you! ** Magick mike, Hi, Mike. Oh, really, that's interesting about Klossowski's novels. Yeah, his prose is very odd. It took me a while to get a taste for it, but then I really got into how he handled prose, style, and stuff. It's strange, though, for sure, at the very least. Kind of lumpy or something. Lovely to see you, man! ** _Black_Acrylic, Of course Plastik sounds really nice. Do they distribute it outside the UK? ** Sypha, Hi. Oh, yeah, it's awful. My grandmother got like that towards the end too. She was in a care facility for the last year or so of her life. It was so fucking depressing. 'Hogg' is short, so it should be a fairly easy read, so to speak, ha ha, but the subject matter might be tough for you, based on things you've said in the past. 'Ada, or Ardor', wow, that would be interesting to read again. I can barely remember it. ** Misanthrope, Oh, man, so sorry to hear about your aunt. God, awful. Speaking of, sort of, I'm hoping your mom's health is okay these days. You haven't mentioned her health in a while, so I'm guessing she's all right? Well happy Thanksgiving to you too! I'm guessing you're going to watch football on TV. Am I wrong? ** Okay. Again, today's your chance to see what this blog was like ages ago when porn and its performers almost had the run of the place. See you with something new finally tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Rerun: Pierre Klossowski Day (orig. 11/24/06, 12/07/06, 01/09/07)

'Pierre Klossowski (1905-2001) played a significant role in French art, literature, and philosophy from the 1930s through the 1980s. His writings rehabilitating the Marquis de Sade as a figure of legitimate literary significance and exploring the philosophical dimensions of pornography, as well as his own substantial corpus of erotic novels and drawings, drew attention from influential critics such as Maurice Blanchot, Gilles Deleuze, Jean-Francois Lyotard, and Jean Baudrillard. Born in Paris to Russian-Polish parents, and older brother to Balthazar (who would become famous as a painter under the name Balthus), Klossowski was mentored during his childhood by Rainer Maria Rilke (his mother's long-time companion after her separation from Klossowskiís father), then in the 1920s by Andre Gide, for whom he worked as private secretary and copyeditor of The Counterfeiters, a novel expressing Gide's philosophy of self-discovery through hedonism and sexual experimentation. Klossowski subsequently embarked on what would be a lifelong quest to blend these two formative influences by exploring the redemptive theological potential of sexually transgressive art.

'Andre Gide,' 1955

'Portrait of Georges Bataille,' 1955

'By the early 1930s, the Marquis de Sade had become Klossowski's hero, an affinity that he shared with Surrealists including Robert Desnos, Paul Eluard, and Georges Bataille. Unlike his peers, however, Klossowski was interested in the philosophical implications of Sadean pornography rather than in violence, excess, and immorality as tools of socio-political contestation. At the height of the Popular Front, Klossowski's trepidation regarding the use of art for political purposes and his fascination with the role of new technologies in artistic production led him to befriend Walter Benjamin, whose seminal essay 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction' he translated into French. Klossowski's deepening interest in theology and distaste for politics led him to join the Dominican order of La Lesse in late 1939. He spent the war studying and working as a chaplain in a Vichy internment camp for political prisoners but was never ordained, leaving the monastery shortly before the Liberation. An original member of the Dieu vivant discussion group formed in 1944 to work out the moral questions posed by the Occupation, Klossowski argued that the expression of extreme evil, whether in the form of Nazism or Sade's sociopathic embrace of perversity--a topic explored in his 1947 book, Sade mon prochain -- is, in fact, morally redemptive because it prompts spiritual resistance through acts of kindness, thereby reawakening and strengthening humanity's impulse toward good.

'Le jeune Ogier ...,' 1972

'Le balcon,' 1974

'Klossowski's career as a creative artist began in 1954 with the publication of Roberte Tonight, the first in a series of self-illustrated, neo-Sadean novels whose heroine is, shockingly, an alter ego of the authorís wife Denise, a former deportee and survivor of Ravensbruck whom he married in 1947. The novels, later collected under the title The Laws of Hospitality, recount the adventures of Octave, an aging Catholic scholar who willingly gives his wife to all willing guests in their home so that he may experience voyeuristic pleasure and provide his nephew Antoine with a sexual education. As with Sade, it is at first glance difficult to discern any philosophical or theological message at work in such an apparently one-dimensional narrative, but Maurice Blanchot lauded Klossowski's work as 'a new gnosis [that] brings to literature what it has lacked since Lautreamont' and 'a sacrilege that attests to the sacred, for if transgression requires an interdict, the sacred requires sacrilege, so that the sacred, which is only witnessed through the impure speech of blasphemy, will not cease to be indissociably bound to a power always capable of transgression.'

Pierre Zucca, 'La Monnale vivante,' 1970

Pierre Zucca, 'Le Monnale vivante,' 1970

'During the 1970s Klossowski found new means of expression using the technologies of 'mechanical reproduction' that captivated the imagination of his old friend Walter Benjamin. He turned first to photography, working with Pierre Zucca on an illustrated version of La Monnaie vivante (which develops the idea that money might usefully be replaced by a 'libidinal economy' in which sex is the only valid currency), then to film adaptations of his novels, first by Zucca, then by Chilean director Raoul Ruiz. As Klossowski mentions in his essay 'The Indiscernible,' cinema allowed him to flout all the conventions of movie-star culture and commercial filmmaking, both mainstream and pornographic; in that sense he shares the preoccupations of Robert Bresson, in whose film Au Hazard Balthazar (1967) he appeared briefly.

'Roberte aux barres paralleles,' 1990

'Diane et Acteon,' 1990

'Klossowski produced three sculptures in the 1990s. From his apartment in Paris, where he lived with his wife Denise, he continued to inspire generation after generation until his death in 2001. Even in death, Pierre Klossowski was inevitably linked with his younger brother, the painter Balthus. Almost all obituaries of the artist, writer, and translator, who died in Paris at age ninety-six, mentioned that his more famous sibling had died only six months earlier. Both vied in wry self-deprecation: Balthus summed up his own painting by saying, "I do surrealism in the style of Courbet," while Klossowski claimed to be no artist, writer, thinker, or philosopher "but first, foremost, and always, a monomaniac." Of Klossowski’s death, French Culture minister Catherine Tasca said, "A man of immense culture has left us. I’m sure that Klossowski’s writing, and his painting, too, will remain an inspiration in the years and decades to come."'

Note: Most of the above text was taken from the writings of Brett Bowles in H-France and Benjamin Ivry in Artforum Magazine

* Pierre Klossowski survey show at Whitechapel Gallery, London
* Wikipedia entry
* One man's tribute to Pierre Klossowski
* Roberte Ce Soir and The Revocation of the Edict of Nante


“I am still and will always be fourteen years old… in my fourteen years I have more memories than if I had lived a thousand…” Pierre Klossowski, in an unpublished conversation with Hans-Ulrich Obrist of 1998.

'Socrate interrogeant le jeune Charmide,' 1984

'Roberte interceptee par les routiers III,' 1972

'Tarquin en Lucretia,' 1980

'La Cuisine de Gilles,' 1976

'Let it be said, Klossowski's drawings are odd. Look at La cuisine de Gilles (1976) in which an effeminate boy is fondled and bitten fireside by the 15th century nobleman Gilles de Rais, infamous for his murderous sexual debauchery, necrophilia, and unshakable Catholic faith. Look at Roberte, naked and sleeping with a fully dressed, wand-waving lilliputian Gulliver on her knees in Roberte et Gulliver I, (1980). Look, in Tarquin et Lucrèce (1976), at the flattened space from which Tarquin is supposed to be emerging, the way Lucrecia's leg slides off her improbable bed, or the way, despite the struggle, one of her ankles remains delicately covered. There is something both absurd and strangely disquieting about Klossowski's large-scale erotic renderings, a fact compounded by their lack of perspective, technical sophistication, and finish. In his graphic oeuvre, one will not find a single landscape or still life, no pretty Arcadias and no studies of baskets of fruit. Klossowski made a specialty of overtly theatrical tableaux vivants. In them, figures appear off balance and out of proportion, frequently supplicating, reprimanding or seducing (and gesturing with their other hand against this at that same time), and often in some state of undress. They look as if they are suspended - in action and in another time.

'In their subject matter as in their style, the drawings relentlessly evoke long outmoded places, moments, and forms: Classical Greece, Late Antiquity, Early Renaissance frescos, Sadean decadence, sinuous Baroque poses, Catholic ritual. Repetition and citation are central to these artifacts. For the most part, his drawings are stages in which his literary characters appear. He draws and redraws Roberte from his novel Roberte Ce Soir above all, but also, Diane, Lucrecia, or Judith (who all appear with the unmistakable likeness of Klossowski's wife, model, and muse, Denise), as well as the young Ogier, Tarquin, Gulliver, the Marquis de Sade, and any number of clerics, saints, and dwarfs. Androgynous women and effeminate boys inhabit the world of mystical visions, moral instruction, theological initiation, and carnal corruption that Klossowski speaks of in his novels. His drawings thus inescapably recall his literary works, which are themselves filled with descriptions of paintings, photographs, and projected images. Depicting characters from Klossowski's final novel Le Baphomet (1965), the drawings La Tour de la Méditation (1976) and Ogier morigénant le frère Damiens (1990) portray scenes of erotic ambiguity in contexts lined with the symbols of religious order (Christian crosses, ecclesiastical dress, Latin church text…). This mix of nudity, sexual innuendo, and theological references - so characteristic of his oeuvre - should make the images shocking, difficult, or scandalous. But in their strangeness and curious instability, they manage to be endlessly puzzling and captivating instead. Untranslatable from or into words, Klossowski's drawings are never mere illustrations of his novels and, invariably, they resist and retell the written narratives from which they seem to emerge.' -- Elena Filipovic

Elena Filipovic is a Paris based independent curator and art historian completing a study on Marcel Duchamp and the museum.

image: Pierre Klossowski with his model Alexandre Nahon circa 1985

'Schaukeistul,' 1976

'Le Baphomet offrant ses services au Grand Maitre,' 1982

'Esquise pour le petite rose,' 1974-1980

'Magiciennes Romaines,' 1980

'Vittorino Offrant Roberte a son neveu,' 1980

'For Klossowski, the work of art is not an autonomous entity but the site of a demonic complicity that begins with the artist and his particular obsession or phantasm, and is then (potentially) repeated in the experience of the viewer. It is demonic, because for Klossowski the unconscious psychic phantasms that psychoanalysis asserts are imaginary, are both exterior to the subject and completely real.

'A demon thus conceived is a virtual entity, a kind of intermediary between the human and the inaccessible divine, but it requires an image or simulacrum in order to be actualized. This conception of art led Klossowski to an idiosyncratic understanding of art’s supposed mimetic relationship to the real. For Klossowski it was an error of realism to believe that the mimetic function of art should lie in a reproduction of the real world, an error that is only compounded by the rejection of mimesis in contemporary abstract art in favour of “broken objects, [and] images gone to pieces.”

'The idea that technical practices such as photography have freed painting from the need to represent the real world is for Klossowski a complete misunderstanding of the mimetic function of art that also underestimates the mimetic power of photography and cinema. Instead, mimesis should be understood as the reproduction of a phantasm, or the tracing of a demonic encounter that actualizes and makes communicable an otherwise virtual, but perfectly real force. Figurative, or as Deleuze says figural art, considered as a block of sensation or a phantasm caught in an image, in other words as a simulacrum, can only “reproduce the demonic strategy,” by producing the same condition in the viewer as originally experienced by the artist in submitting to the phantasm. For Klossowski this demonic complicity, as opposed to the subjectivity of the artist, explains the haunting power of works of art: “What then sustains the action of a “finished picture,” if not the coming and going of this “demonic” presence, between the artist and his simulacrum, the simulacrum and its viewer.”' -- Michael Goddard

from 'Hypothesis of the Stolen Aesthetics.' Read the rest here.

image: Eugen Spiro, Pierre and Balthus Playing Soldiers

'Ganymede,' 1978

'La récupération de la plus-value,' 1980

'Les barres parallèles(II),' 1976

'Le commendeur succombant a la pose provocante d'Ogier,' 1981

'La Nef de Fous,' 1988-1990

'In an artistic career that spanned half a century he could not really be said to have honed his technique. Rather, he worked tirelessly on the elaboration of certain obsessions, notably the insertion of the face and body of his wife, Denise - the model for the extravagantly ravished Roberte - into an apparently unending succession of erotic tableaux. The drawings are resolutely awkward. Their solecisms of scale and proportion are not so much evidence of formal naivety as invitations to address something that is, for Klossowski, far more pressing: the realm of gesture.

'Time and again, whatever the prodigiously imagined scenario into which the artist has thrust her, Roberte adopts the same pose. Everything in these drawings, which expose her to grips and gazes, either malign or merely curious (as in the many images where she is seized by small boys), is actually in the arrangement of her hands. Whether beset by the sinister guardsman in Roberte ce soir, pawed and pored over by adolescents or cast in further fictionalized settings (the classical rape of Lucretia by Tarquin, the strange arrival of Jonathan Swift's diminutive Gulliver at the end of her bed), Roberte holds one hand close and closed, the other raised and open. Often her raised hand shields the eyes of her attacker while the other is thrust between her legs (the cue for questionable conjectures by Klossowski's narrators as to whether she is protecting herself or guiding her assailant). But the pose is not always a response to violence; it is to be seen too in the drawings of Roberte (or Denise) alone. One hand curled, the other splayed, Roberte, as the title of one drawing has it, is 'mad about her body'.' -- Brian Dillon

from 'In the Realm of the Senses' in Frieze Magazine. Read the rest.

image: Denise Klossowski, undated

more Pierre Klossowski artworks
* buy 'Phantasm and Simulacra: The Drawings of Pierre Klossowski' (Autonomedia)
* buy 'The Decadence of the Nude: The Work of Pierre Klossowski' (Black Dog Press)
* download Tracey McNulty's "Hospitality after the Death of God: Pierre Klossowski's 'Les lois de l'hospitalité'"


Sometimes work by writers destined for the blog can be quickly found online, accessed with links and/or copied and pasted from their respective sites. But others have yet to make the switch from page to webpage. Klossowski is one of the latter types. Search hard and long as I did, I found very little I could use to populate this day. Not a single excerpt from any of his novels, and only a couple of nonfiction shards. So this last of the Klossowski days is necessarily more of a suggestive aside than a closing argument. Needless to say, I think his writings -- esp. the novel trilogy The Laws of Hospitality (Roberte Ce Soir, The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and Le Souffleur,) and his books on Sade (Sade, My Neighbor) and Nietzsche (Nietzche and the Vicious Circle) are very worth your attention. But unfortunately, due to the abovementioned problem, you'll have to take my and a few other people's words for it.


Reading Pierre Klossowski

John Taylor

Let’s take Pierre Klossowski (1905-2001) at his word, and read him with his favorite word. He claimed to “fabricate simulacra.” What exactly did the French writer mean? The word “simulacrum” is restricted by English usage to “a representation of something (image, effigy),” to “something having the form but not the substance of a material object (imitation, sham),” and to “a superficial likeness (appearance, semblance).” Contemporary French understands the term similarly, while maintaining traces of more concrete Latin meanings: “statue (of a pagan god),” even “phantom.” Interestingly, French adds “a simulated act” to these semantic possibilities, as in Raymond Queneau’s amusing description in Zazie in the Metro: “He took his head in his hands and performed the futile simulacrum (fit le futile simulacre) of tearing it off.” For Roman writers, a simulacrum could also be “a material representation of ideas” (and not just that of a deity), as well as “a moral portrait.”

One must think in Latin when reading Klossowski. All of the above meanings inform the strange and disturbing erotic fiction of this writer who not only produced The Baphomet (1965) and the trilogy Les lois de l’hospitalité (The Laws of Hospitality) (1954-1965), but also translated Suetonius, Virgil, and Saint Augustine (alongside Kafka, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Hölderlin, and Heidegger). The author’s intimacy with Latin, and with Latin literature, cannot be overemphasized. So strong was his attachment that it clearly affected his French syntax and diction, as if the dead language had somehow survived in him—a second mother tongue, both nourishing and competing with a first one. Possessing an antiquarian atmosphere all its own (especially in The Baphomet), Klossowski’s style disorients readers unaware of this linguistic background (which includes, moreover, his consorting with liturgical and biblical Latin during his World War II years spent as a Dominican novitiate). May it be said that Klossowski’s meticulously quaint style is itself a simulacrum of sorts, a conscious transposition into French of the spirit of Latin, a modern-day linguistic specter of a once-vital source that has been lost and in this way “recovered”?

(Read the rest)


from Of the Simulacrum in Georges Bataille's Communication

Pierre Klossowski

The contents of experience that Bataille declares as being so many sovereign moments--ecstasy, anguish, laughter, erotic and sacrificial effusion -- these contents together illustrate that revolt which is here only a call to the silent authority of a pathos with neither goal nor meaning, experienced as an immediate apprehension of the flight of being, and whose discontinuity exerts an incessant intimidation vis-à-vis language.

----No doubt, for Bataille, these movements of pathos only present themselves as sovereign moments because they verify the discontinuous itself and are produced as ruptures of thought; however, these are contents of experience that in fact differ greatly from one another with respect to discontinuity, as soon as they become so many objects of a meditation. How could laughter, as a reaction to the sudden passage from the known to the unknown--where consciousness intervenes just as suddenly, since Bataille declares: "to laugh is to think" 9 --how could laughter be comparable to ecstasy or to erotic effusion, in spite of their "reactive" affinities in the face of a same object? How could it be comparable to ecstasy in particular since the latter would result from a group of mental operations subordinated to a goal? It is a similar difficulty that Bataille himself emphasizes and takes pleasure in lingering over, as over an enterprise beyond hope from the beginning. If these sovereign moments are so many examples of the discontinuous and of the flight of being, then as soon as mediation considers them as its object, it reconstitutes all the unsuspected stages that pathos burned in its sudden appearance--and the language of a process that is only suitable for vulgar operations10 does nothing here but conceal the modalities of the absence of thought, under the pretext of describing them and reflecting them in consciousness, and thus seeks to lend to pathos, in itself discontinuous, the greatest continuity possible, just as it seeks to reintegrate the most being possible. Thus because (notional) language makes the study and the search for the sovereign moment contradictory, inaccessible by its sudden appearance, there where silence imposes itself, the simulacrum imposes itself at the same time. Indeed the aimed-for moments that are sovereign only retrospectively, since the search must henceforth coincide with an unpredictable movement of pathos--these moments appear by themselves as simulacra of the apprehension of the flight of being outside of existence, and thus as simulacra of the discontinuous. How can the contents of the experience of pathos keep their "sovereign" character of an expenditure tending towards pure loss, of a prodigality without measure, if the purpose of this meditation is to raise oneself up to this level through an ''inner" reexperience, thus producing for oneself a "profit"? Will the authenticity of these moments--the very authenticity of wastage--not be already compromised, as soon as it is "retained" as a "value"? How, finally, would they sufficiently escape from notional language in order to be recognized only as simulacra? It is precisely the same for ecstasy, which is at the same time a content of authentic experience, and a value, since it is a sovereign moment, but which only escapes from notional language by revealing itself to be a simulacrum of death. This in a meditation that amounts to fighting with all the strength of thought against the very act of thinking. "If the death of thought is pushed to the point where it is sufficiently dead thought, so that it is no longer either despairing or in anguish, then there is no longer any difference between the death of thought and ecstasy. ... There is, therefore, beginning with the death of thought, a new realm open to knowledge; based on non-knowledge, a new knowledge is possible.

(Read the rest here)


from The Translator's Preface

Daniel W. Smith

Pierre Klossowski’s Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle ranks alongside Martin Heidegger’s Nietzsche and Gilles Deleuze's Nietzsche and Philosophy as one of the most important and influential, as well as idiosyncratic, readings of Nietzsche to have appeared in Europe. When it was originally published in 1969, Michel Foucault, who frequently spoke of his indebtedness to Klossowski’s work, penned an enthusiastic letter to its author. ‘It is the greatest book of philosophy I have read,’ he wrote, ‘with Nietzsche himself.’ Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle was in fact the result of a long apprenticeship. Under the influence of Georges Bataille, Klossowski first began reading Nietzsche in 1934, ‘in competition with Kierkegaard’. During the next three decades, he published a number of occasional pieces on Nietzsche: an article in a special issue of the journal Acéphale devoted to the question of ‘Nietzsche and the Fascists’ (1937); reviews of Karl Löwith’s and Karl Jasper’s books on Nietzsche (1939); an introduction to his own translation of The Gay Science (1954); and most importantly, a lecture presented to the Collège de Philosophie entitled ‘Nietzsche, polytheism, and parody’ (1957), which Deleuze later praised for having ‘renewed the interpretation of Nietzsche’.

----It was not until the 1960s, however, that Klossowski seems to have turned his full attention to Nietzsche. Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle grew out of a paper entitled ‘Forgetting and anamnesis in the lived experience of the eternal return of the same’, which Klossowski presented at the famous Royaumont conference on Nietzsche in July 1964. Over the next few years, Klossowski published a number of additional articles that were ultimately gathered together in Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle in 1969. The primary innovation of the study lay in the importance it gave to Nietzsche’s experience of the Eternal Return at Sils-Maria in August 1881, of which Klossowski provided a new and highly original interpretation. The book was one of the primary texts in the explosion of interest in Nietzsche that occurred in France around 1970, and it exerted a profound influence on Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus (1972) and Lyotard’s Libidinal Economy (1975). In July 1972, a second major conference on Nietzsche took place in France at Cerisy-la-Safle, which included presentations by Deleuze, Derrida, Lyotard, Nancy, Lacoue-Labarthe and Gandillac, among many others. Klossowski’s contribution was a paper entitled ‘Circulus vitiosus’, which analysed what he called the ‘conspiracy’ (complot) of the eternal return. It was the last text he would write on Nietzsche.

(Read the rest here)


from Nietszche and the Vicious Circle

Pierre Klossowski

"When a god wanted to be the only God, all the other gods were gripped by mad laughter to the point of _dying_ of laughter. For what is the divine if not the fact that there be several gods and not God alone?"

Laughter is here the supreme image, the supreme manifestation of the divine reabsorbing the articulated gods [_les dieux prononces_], and articulating the gods through a new burst of laughter; for if the gods die from this laughter, it is also _from this laughter which bursts forth from the ground of all truth_ that the gods are reborn. One must follow Zarathustra to the end of his adventure to see the refutation of the need to create in relation to and against necessity, as a _denunciation_ of this _solidarity_ between the _three_ forces of _eternalisation_, _adoration_ and _creation_, these three cardinal virtues in Nietzsche, where one sees that the death of God and the distress of the fundamental eros, the distress of the need to adore are identical; a distress that the need to create holds up to ridicule as its own failure. For if it is the failure of a single instinct, the mockery which compensates for it is no less inscribed in the necessity of the eternal return: Zarathustra, once he has willed the eternal return of all things, has in advance chosen to see his own doctrine ridiculed, as if _laughter, this infallible murderer_, was not also the best inspiration, as well as the best despiser of this same doctrine; _thus the eternal return of all things wills also the return of the gods_. What other sense, if not this one, can we attribute to the extraordinary parody of the Last Supper where God's murderer is also the one who offers the chalice to the donkey - sacrilegious figure of the Christian God from the time of the pagan reaction, but more specifically the sacred animal of the ancient mysteries, the _golden_ donkey of the Isiac [_isiaque_ - ? to do with Isis?] initiation, an animal dignified by his indefatigable _Ia_(2) - its indefatigable _yes_ given to the return of all things - worthy of representing divine forbearance, worthy also thus of incarnating an ancient divinity, Dionysus, the god of the vine, resuscitated in the general drunkenness. And, effectively, as the Traveller declares to Zarathustra: _death, with the gods, is never anything but a prejudice_.

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The Physiognomy of The Unique Sign: On Pierre Klossowski's Afterword to The Laws of Hospitality

Albert Liu

In 1965, Pierre Klossowski published his extraordinary set of novels, La Révocation de l'Edit de Nantes, Roberte Ce Soir, and Le Souffleur under the collective title of Les Lois de l'Hospitalité - The Laws of Hospitality. In an eighteen-page afterword, Klossowski describes the particular set of circumstances that led him to write the novels. Of this afterword, Blanchot (1971) said, "these are the most dramatic pages an abstract writing could give us today." Blanchot in fact shies away from interpreting the text, citing its extreme difficulty. Despite this caveat, I will propose a reading of this brief afterword, to show how just a year or two before Foucault's The Order of Things and Derrida's Of Grammatology inaugurated a reinterpretation of Western culture along the lines of what Gianni Vattimo has called "post-structuralism's linguistic idealism," Klossowski, with his characteristic singlemindedness, elaborated a perverse semiotic in which the sign's dominance is no less absolute but in no way dependent on notions of arbitrariness or difference.

This is Klossowski's way of posing the following question: "Can a couple multiply itself otherwise than by having children, deploying, projecting, deepening, exalting, caricaturing themselves - can they each time recreate, re-wed themselves in another dimension - and all the while remain the same without ever exhausting their resources?" To approach this question, one might have expected a lengthy discourse on sexuality, reproduction, and voyeurism, but strangely enough, Klossowski's explanation seems to amount only to a jumble of abstractions and baroque terminologies. The afterword begins as follows:

"At the end of a period in which I was led three times in a row to the same theme, resulting in three validations, the phenomenon of thought came back to me - how it is produced, with its rises, its falls and its absences-when one day, having sought to relate some circumstances from my life, I soon came to be reduced to a sign".

Seized by what he will call the signe unique, the unique sign, in this case the name "Roberte," Klossowski is trapped between the madness of the obsessive word and the perfect lucidity of its coherence. I present some representative excerpts from the text to give a sense of how it begins relatively coherently and very quickly goes haywire:

"Fascinated by the name Roberte as a sign, while I was in the garden seeing nothing more of the sunny greenery around me having no other vision than the unstable penumbra in which the glow of her ungloved hand played - I resolved to describe what might happen in the penumbra, which was illusory. In the name Roberte I referred all that I saw, which I would not have been able to see without this name.

"The penumbra, the glow of her epidermis, the glove, these are so many designations not of things existing here within my reach, but forming a set in conformity with the unreal penumbra ...

"Will I still claim that it is not "representation" and that thought belongs to itself alone, not as my faculty, but as an intensity that found me here, in the middle of the greenery?... Will I say it is not I who designate what I understand by penumbra but thought, outside of me, which sees itself in the terms penumbra, epidermis, glove, etc.?

"But haven't I said that the sign's malice consisted in answering, as name, to a physiognomy exterior to the sign?

"And, indeed, it seemed that the shadow projected by the sign onto the reality of the world covered over so perfectly the physiognomy exterior to the sign that it dissimulated it under this name...."

"But, unable to limit myself to the simple coincidence of the name with this physiognomy seeking instead an equivalent to this coincidence, under the constraint the sign exercised over me, yet seeking the sort of equivalent as much to escape my madness as its constraint, though not being able to keep myself to the shadow of the sign...

"From the moment I set myself to describing this very physiognomy in the notation of the utterances flowing, outside of time, from the name Roberte, and from the moment that, in these discontinuous facts, it figured, no longer by its mere coincidence with the name, but as physiognomy, which until then was exterior to the sign that had covered it over with its shadow, the description of the shadow itself came to establish the contours of the physiognomy as its participation in external reality, and this physiognomy emerged as if from itself from the shadow spread over reality by the sign...."

"What did the silence of this physiognomy opposed to its name as sign amount to? Was the sign to be taken as a portrait? Wasn't it the model, since it had become this sign?... Instead of the equivalent to the madness I had avoided, I found between the silence of the physiognomy and the silence of the appreciation of the outside, a portrait. But since it was still a question of juggling the unique sign, I wanted to exploit this silence of the portrait to make a painting... Then, this portrait, suddenly peopled with other figures, became a painting destined to teach through its image. But the lesson taught by the image is only the institution of a custom: the laws of hospitality."

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Diacritics was one of the first academic journals to bring continental theory to the US. Historically its preferred mode has been the review article that analyzes in detail the theoretical arguments and assumptions of the most significant books in the humanities and social sciences. It periodically publishes special issues on topics or on thinkers of great current interest. Forthcoming soon in that regard is:

Whispers of the Flesh: Essays in Memory of Pierre Klossowski
Special editors, Ian James and Russell Ford

Pierre Klossowski - novelist, essayist, painter, and translator - was one of the most startling, original, and influential figures in twentieth-century French intellectual culture. Confined thus far to an undeserved but somehow fitting shadow existence in the margins and notes of theorists who have become mainstays of Anglo-American criticism, Klossowski's own work has increasingly become a focus of critical interest for its decisive contribution to the development of thought and aesthetics in France from the 1950s on. Contributions by Patrick Amstutz, Peter Canning, Russell Ford, Ian James, Eleanor Kaufman, Alphonso Lingis, Tracy McNulty, and Daniel W. Smith.


Japanese Pierre Klossowski Info Site
Buy Pierre Klossowski's books
'Pierre Klossowski's' myspace page



* (English)/(French) Sade my neighbour (Quartet Bks., 1992, ISBN 0-7043-0155-5; original French ed. Sade mon prochain, Paris, Seuil, 1947)
* (French) La Vocation suspendue (Paris: Gallimard,1950)
* (French) Un si funeste désir (Paris: Gallimard, 1963)
* (English)/(French) The Baphomet (Marsilio Pub, 1992, ISBN 0-941419-73-8 ; original French ed. Le Baphomet, Paris, Mercure de France, 1965)
* (French) Les Lois de l'hospitalité (Paris: Gallimard, 1965) (trilogy of the 'Roberte' novels: La Révocation de l'Édit de Nantes (1959), Roberte ce soir (1954), and Le Souffleur (1960))
* (English)/(French) Roberte Ce Soir and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Dalkey Archive Press, 2002, ISBN 1-56478-309-X
* (English)/(French) Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle (University of Chicago Press, 1998, ISBN 0-226-44387-6; other ed. 2001 ISBN 0-485-12133-6; original version Paris, Mercure de France, 1969)
* (English)/(French) Diana at Her Bath/the Women of Rome Marsilio Publishers, 1998, ISBN 1-56886-055-2 (original edition Le Bain de Diane, Paris, Gallimard, 1980)
* (French) Écrits d'un monomane: Essais 1933-1939 (Paris: Gallimard, 2001)
* (French) Tableaux vivants: Essais critiques 1936-1983 (Paris: Gallimard, 2001)
* (French) L'adolescent immortel (Paris: Gallimard, 2001)
* (French) La Monnaie vivante (Paris: Gallimard, 2003)


p.s. Hey. ** Bitter69uk, Hey, man! Always a real pleasure! Cool re: the timing, and I just yesterday got my hands on the self-same 'Edgewise', so the timing is bordering on paranormal maybe. How are you? ** Hyemin kim, Hi. Oh, of course I know that post. Let me find it. Hold on a second. Here it is. Oh, no, I'm just tender in the ribs at this point. If the doctor wasn't lying, I should feel pretty normal in a few days, but I'm not supposed to actually be normal for another three weeks, so I have to make sure I don't pick up a huge boulder or anything until then. Thanks a lot again! ** MyNeighbour JohnTurtorro, Hi, MNJT. Really good to see you, man! The pixies, ha ha. Trolls, actually, of the pre-'internet troll' sort, or that's what the Icelanders call them. Thanks about the gig. I'm putting together the next one. So much good stuff lately. Life is, yes, several shades of busy, and very good. I've never seen Tim Hecker live. I've missed every chance. Envy. Alex G is crossing the ocean? I hope he comes to Paris. I'll check wherever such information resides. I wonder if he's touring here with Foxes in Fiction 'cos I saw that they're heading over this way too. I guess he must have a band when he plays live? I'd love to see him live, for sure, cool. What's up in general on your end? ** David Ehrenstein, Gotta see 'The Company', obviously. I don't know how it slipped by. And I'll go see your Ferguson take. Everyone, Mr. Ehrenstein weighs in on Ferguson under the title 'Joseph L. Mankiewicz Explains It All For You' in his inimitable style on his inimitable FaBlog here. I haven't seen 'Short Cuts' since it was released originally, but, yeah, I really didn't like it, largely, as I recall, because I just thought it didn't get those Carver stories right in any shape or form, but, hey I'll try it again. ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh. Really interesting thoughts on translation. I've heard that about the French noir translations. I wish I could read them. And of course I've always wished I could read Baudelaire's Poe translations, which supposedly really reinvent Poe's prose, which would be fascinating since, well, for me, Poe's not so great prose is a really catch in his work. Anyway, I'm with you totally, from my perspective. I don't think the translators are necessarily fans of my stuff, but I really don't know for sure. Wait, in a couple of situations, they were, now that I think about it. I think my publisher tries to choose people who, one, are comfortable with the subject matter and with my approach, and, two, who have translated 'difficult' books, whether that means DFW or Vollman or whoever. Bon day, sir! ** Kier, Hi! Mueller's awesome. And her writing is actually really funny and smart. What do Norwegians do on 'Little Christmas'? I think the Dutch have something like that. I remember when I lived there that there was this day pre-Xmas when Father Santa or whatever they call him would make this big arrival by boat into Amsterdam through the canals, and everybody would line the canals and wave and throw things at him. Nice things like, I don't know, flowers and candy and stuff. Really glad you've gotten some of the technical stuff on the way to being sorted. That's so exciting! My day ... uh, first I let myself reenter my long dormant novel and start wrapping it around my head for the first in my months, and that was good, and I still really like it. Then Zac and I went to the opening of the Jeff Koons retrospective at the Pompidou. But it was more like a preview for people in-the-know than a star-studded Opening kind of thing. I was surprised that I kind of enjoyed the show. I liked his really early stuff back in the '80s, and, seeing the whole trajectory, I don't know, I sort of thought it was fun or something, and I wasn't offended or anything. That was interesting. Then we checked out some galleries and had coffee and went book shopping and hung out for a while. Then he went back to work on the early, very raw editing of our film, and I came back here and wrote a little. I conferred with Gisele about the dummies/puppets for the new ventriloquist piece. Gisele designed them, and this really great, famous puppet maker named Hagen Tilp is making them, and they look amazing in progress. I wrote to Elias from Iceage and told him that Zac and I would love to meet and hang out with him when he's here for Iceage show, and I'm waiting to see if he's into that. It was kind of a nerdy email. I had a few minutes, and I tried to make a new blog post, but I realized it wasn't good, or else wouldn't become good without some time spent, so I gave up and picked out this rerun post instead. I had a really nice Skype conversation with Chilly Jay Chill. And I think that was mostly what happened. What happened on Wednesday, pal? ** Keaton, Hi. Yeah, people love painting. It's really interesting. I'm weird to be so hard to convince when it comes to painting. But I know a few like me. Zac's like me. I just always liked sculptures and installations and videos better, even when I was a wee lad. Paris doesn't feel very haunted, or not to me, which is actually really strange when you think about it, but it must be haunted, right? I mean if anywhere is. ** _Black_Acrylic, That event sounds/looks cool. What is Plastik like? What is its bent? Awesome that you've entered the pre-stretch stretch! ** Zach, Hi. Yay, Baltimore. Or, yay about you going there at the very least! I was there twice. I liked it. John Waters made me lunch at his house once. Cool. Yeah, the q&a was tricky, but ... I don't know, somehow I feel like when you're doing something like that in the air, live or whatever, you have so much more room to move, and I feel like the listeners know it's spontaneous and don't take it as seriously. When you write something, it ends up being so dead set. It's intense. ** Chilly Jay Chill, Really good talking to you too, Jeff! I did read 'Nicola, Milan'. I think it was in one of my '4 books ... ' posts. It's lovely, yeah, really good, tight and very well written, I agree. ** Misanthrope, Both hella cool and funny maybe even. Oops. Crack your windows at least. ** Sypha, Hi. I should still be here at the big R. until early next year, maybe until February or something, I think, I hope. Oh, shit, scary about your grandmother. That stuff is so complicatedly painful and confusing. I feel for you, my friend. Hugs. ** Right. Another rerun today. You might get one more before I catch up. This one used to be three separate posts that added up to one over time, and now it's officially just one. The great Pierre Klossowksi! Hope it's of interest. See you tomorrow.